The Layman’s Guide to Cryptocurrency

If you work in finance, banking, or investment, you must have heard the words ‘cryptocurrency’ and ‘Bitcoin’ flying around. In fact, as we stand today, there are more than 10,000 cryptocurrencies in the world with a value of $919 billion. With this ever-increasing pace of adoption, you might be wondering, ‘are cryptocurrencies right for my organization?’ or ‘shall we start investing in Bitcoin?’. If these questions are crossing your mind, we have the answers for you.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to cryptocurrencies, how you can get them, and whether they are a good investment.

What are Cryptocurrencies?

Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that are exchanged on a decentralized ledger called a blockchain that facilitates all kinds of financial transactions.

When using a blockchain, there is no centralized bank or government mediating the financial transactions between parties. Instead, the blockchain automatically mediates all transactions by storing every set of transaction information in a block that is highly secured with cryptography. This ensures the safe and tamper-free recording of all transactions. It also enables the automatic verification and authorization of parties, so financial transactions take place with ease, speed, safety, and more cost-effectiveness.

 

 

The Pros of Cryptocurrencies

Owing to their reliance on blockchain technology as well as their removal of all intermediaries in transactions, cryptocurrencies present users with a huge set of advantages. Here are some of the many benefits of using cryptocurrencies.

1. They are global currencies
Cryptocurrencies are not tied to any particular jurisdiction. As such, they can be used anywhere and transferred freely from one country to another. In fact, due to the ease by which they facilitate international transfers, they are expected to play a growing role in the remittance economy.

2. They are exchangeable with fiat currencies
Fiat currencies are currencies legally issued by a jurisdiction such as the USD or GBP. Some people fear that cryptocurrencies can only be used in the ‘digital’ world. However, they actually can be exchanged in crypto exchanges for fiat currencies which you can use in the ‘real’ world. This exchangeability makes cryptocurrencies highly valuable as you don’t need to wait for wider adoption in order to start using them.

3. They are highly secure
As the prefix implies, cryptocurrencies are highly cryptographed currencies. In other words, they are secured by sophisticated cryptography which makes it impossible to change any historical records on the blockchain. Not only that but blockchains also use a two-factor authentication process to allow transactions. This makes cryptocurrency transactions one of the most secure financial transactions out there.

4. Crypto transactions are faster and more cost-effective
Since exchanging cryptocurrencies for products, services, or fiat currencies on the blockchain is an automated decentralized transaction, all intermediaries are eliminated. Such elimination significantly reduces the cost of transactions for every purchase or sale you make. It also significantly enhances the speed. In fact, according to a recent study, ‘Bitcoin transactions take an average of 10 min to settle…In severe situations, this might last for several hours or even days……but it’s an average of three days of bank transactions processing.’ This is a very luring feature to consider if you’re considering adding cryptocurrencies to your organization’s treasury.

5. Cryptocurrencies are market-based
You may see this as a pro or a con, but the point here is that the value of a cryptocurrency is only dependent on the changes in supply and demand. No government interventions could falsely increase or decrease its value. As such, cryptocurrencies are extremely transparent currencies.

6. They are growing in adoption
Although blockchain technology appeared in 2008, the first cryptocurrency ever, Bitcoin, was introduced in 2009. Despite their promising benefits, cryptocurrencies’ adoption did not grow as fast as anticipated. That being said, their usage has still been growing steadily since the inception of cryptocurrency. In fact, now some major companies such as newegg.com, AT&T, Microsoft, Overstock, Shopify, Rakuten, Home Depot, and Rolex are already accepting them as valid modes of payment for their products and services.

How to Obtain Cryptocurrencies?

One of the most pressing questions that people interested in crypto have is ‘how to get it?’ and ‘where to keep it?’. In the section of the article, we’ll provide you with simple non-techy answers to these questions.

Buy a Cryptocurrency

The first thing you need to do is to obtain cryptocurrencies.

You may have heard of ‘mining’ as a way of obtaining cryptocurrencies. However, as easy as ‘mining’ sounds, it is actually almost impossible for individuals to ‘mine’ cryptocurrencies. Why? Because although technically speaking, all you need to mine is a computer and an internet connection, the amount of energy your computer will need to mine can be the equivalent of an entire country’s consumption. As a result, only big organizations in actuality have the resources to mine cryptocurrencies. In fact, a recent study by MIT shows that 10% of miners account for 90% of the cryptocurrencies’ mining capacity.

 

So what can you do?

There are much easier ways for you to obtain cryptocurrencies. In fact, it is just as simple as buying fiat currency. All you need to do is select a broker or a cryptocurrency exchange platform to buy cryptocurrencies. You’ll find many options for exchange platforms. Review their fees and features well before you make the choice.

Once you have selected your broker or platform, you’ll need to fund your account with fiat currency in exchange for the crypto ones. Now, you will have cryptocurrencies in your account and you will be free to make ‘buy’ or ‘sell’ orders using your broker or exchange platform’s website or mobile application.

Where to Store Cryptocurrencies?

Cryptocurrencies are digital non-tangible assets that you can only access using a private key. So it is important that you store this digital key in a safe and secure place to prevent unauthorized access to it and your cryptos. Most crypto exchange platforms will provide you with crypto wallets to store your private key safely. However, depending on the platform, you may be offered a ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ wallet.

● Hot Wallet– These wallets are digital. They provide you with online software that you can use to securely store your key.
● Cold Wallet– These wallets are physical. They provide you with an offline electronic device that you can use to securely store your key.

Wallets also use high-security practices to ensure the safety of your key and, thereby, your assets. However, it is worth noting that they are not as secure as the blockchain itself and that, in fact, many cryptocurrency breaches happen through crypto wallets and not the blockchain.

Proceed Wisely

As promising as cryptocurrency is, it is still a currency in its infancy and it is still highly unregulated and unprotected by law. Therefore, as an intelligent banker, investor, or financier, weigh the returns against the risks; the benefits against the costs, and proceed wisely.

How Can XpertLearning Help?

This has been our introduction to cryptocurrency. If you are interested in knowing more about fintech, artificial intelligence applications in finance, cryptocurrencies, and potential tech-induced disruptions in finance, check out our banking and finance courses. These courses are presented by our partner, Intuition, a leading global knowledge solutions company helping financial professionals develop the skills and expertise they need to unlock their potential.

 

 

How to Have More Women in Tech?

The tech sector is growing with a rate of  5-6%, making it one of the largest growing sectors in the world. Not only that but the sector also provides 15% of the highest 20 paying jobs worldwide. With these statistics in mind, women are encouraged to step forward and reach out to gain all the perks and benefits that a career in tech can offer. Sadly though, despite all the long strides that women have made in the workplace, only 26.2% of tech jobs are held by women and women still get paid 2.5% less than their male counterparts in the sector for the same role.

What are the reasons behind this? And what can tech or tech-enabled organizations do to build more diverse & inclusive work environments? 

Where is all of this coming from?

There are several factors contributing to having less women in tech. These factors combined drive less and less female representation across the employee pipeline.

Fear of a STEM Education

The gender gap in tech surprisingly is highly driven by an entry gap stemming from young girls’ lack of interest or fear of STEM subjects in school. The result? Only 26% of students in STEM majors in universities are women. There’s no surprise that if this is the percent taking up a STEM major that the percent of women entering the tech sector will be around that same range.

Misrepresentation in Senior Roles

Men represent 89% of all senior roles in the tech sector, an observation that is likely to create  barriers of entry to women at all levels. This means that even for those few women who choose a STEM career, they need to pass by a male manager’s approval in order to get promoted in their career path. With unconscious gender biases in place, this makes it harder and harder for women to progress in their careers which reinforces that gender pay gap and drives women out of tech.

High-Stress Sector

The tech sector has undergone many upheavals in the past fifty years, giving it a reputation of being a sector ruled by uncertainty and fast pace. In a world where only those who ‘move fast and break things’ survive, things can get very stressful. This affects women more especially since women usually have other considerations at play. With the need to balance things such as building a career and building a family, providing caregiving to an elderly parent, etc, this uncertain and fast-paced culture can be nerve-wracking and a dreary career option even to the most talented of tech women.

How Can You Build a Women-Friendly Tech Workplace? 

As shocking as all the numbers are, do not be discouraged! Organizations have gone a long way in the past fifty years to improve the situation for women. In fact, although only 26.2% of tech jobs are held by women today, this number is three times higher than it was in the 1970s in some countries.

But there is still more to do. Here is our list of best practices that you can do in your tech organization to have more women on board.

Revisit Your Job Posts

Research has shown that the language used in job posts significantly impacts the gender gap of applicants to the same roles. For example, words like ‘competition’, ‘expert’, or ‘lead’ tend to drive off women. On the other hand, words like ‘collaboration’, ‘team’, or ‘support’ can lead to more women applicants for exactly the same roles. It all has to do with how you phrase it!

Offer Leadership Development & Mentorship Programs

Equip your female employees with the skills they need to advance in their tech careers. Provide them with leadership development programs that build their skills and hone them for senior leadership roles. More importantly, initiate a mentorship and sponsorship program that connects the new women entrants in your organization with the already established women leaders who have made it. Having a role model and a mentor from the same gender helps provide women with the support they need to grow.

Build Flexibility into the Work Environment

Being laden with the responsibility of balancing conflicting duties, women prize flexibility in the workplace. They benefit greatly from flexible work hours, remote work arrangements, and all policies that make their balancing act easier. Moreover, they also benefit from perks that are designed to support women. For example, child care assistance or extended maternity leave are all perks that assure women that they are valued and their special requirements are not considered a burden on the organization.

Issue Gender Reports with Transparency

Reporting goes a long way in quantifying an issue and raising awareness about it. A simple annual or semi-annual report showing the gender distribution of your workforce across all roles and levels, if published regularly and disseminated widely in the organization, can raise awareness about your diversity and inclusion goals. This may encourage more hiring managers in your organization to reflect on their hiring practices and promotions decisions.

Start Early

Reach out to young girls in schools pre-university through your corporate social responsibility programs. Showcase to them the rewarding prospects of a career in tech and help take down the barriers to loving STEM subjects. It would be great if you can connect them with female techies in your organization to mentor, guide, and encourage them.

How Can XpertLearning Help?

These are the best practices for building a tech workplace that encourages and supports women. If you are considering giving a leadership program to women in your organization, check our leadership courses here. And if you’re considering purchasing a talent management system to more effectively track diversity and inclusion statistics in your organization, check our partners’ talent management systems here.

 

 

The Path to Digital Transformation

Since the advent of computers in the 1950s, digital trends have been taking the world by storm. Moreover, since the introduction of the internet in the 1980s, more than 12 million internet-based companies have emerged and almost all large brick-and-mortar companies have incorporated the internet in several areas of their business. Now, around 30% of the world’s business happens online. And now, even more aggressively than before, we find ourselves at the threshold of the fourth industrial revolution. What does this mean to you? What technological trends shall be taking over? What changes do you need to make and how?

In this article, we’ll explore the different digital trends emerging today and likely to lead the world tomorrow and what you need to do about them.

Digital Trends of the Future

Big Data Analysis

The current internet revolution is making quintillions of data available to organizations– data about their customers, operations, distribution channels, etc. For so long, this data would have remained idle and unused but, with the emerging technologies, organizations now can swiftly dig deep into this data and analyze it. This helps them arrive at deep insights into their customer behaviors and operations utilization.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is an application of computer science by which machines learn to think and make decisions like humans. Artificial intelligence is already being used now to fuel many of the features that we experience today. Some of the widespread applications of AI are the recommendation systems that you experience on social media or streaming platforms. Other applications of AI are computer vision applications such as Google Lens and natural language processing (NLP) applications which enable text-to-speech conversion and vice versa. Artificial Intelligence is infiltrating many aspects of business today and is likely to be a game changer in the future.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a technology based on artificial intelligence and it enables the creation of a network between devices. This network allows devices to communicate freely to provide better service to customers or higher efficiency in organizations. Imagine your door communicating to your lights to switch off as you close the door on your way out while simultaneously activating your cellphone locator app.

Cloud Computing 

Cloud computing is a technology that allows computing services such as servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence to be available to you over the internet ‘the cloud’ without the need for you to host servers on your organization’s premises. This allows you to expand your digital services and offerings to customers with high flexibility and speed and at a much more affordable cost.

What do these digital trends mean for you?

These digital trends are already having a great impact on businesses today and will have a higher impact in the future. Let’s see how they impact you.

Marketing

Marketing is one of the biggest areas where digital trends are disruptive. For starters, big data analysis makes it much easier and faster for you to derive insights about your customers. Now, you can not only understand where your customers are and how much they pay, but you can also discover insights into their preferences and their psychological attributes. Perhaps, you discover most of your customers are extroverts. Then, you can use this information to build more effective marketing campaigns. Moreover, with artificial intelligence, you can also target only relevant customers with your ads, build omnichannel marketing campaigns, and track your ads’ effectiveness.

Customer Success

These digital trends now enable you to be in constant touch with your customers in real-time wherever they are. They also enable you to catch up with your customers from where they have left off, regardless of where their last interaction with you has taken place. More importantly, you can deliver more services to your customers in more convenient ways. Customers can make orders via your website, chatbox, or mobile app. They can get better upgrade recommendations and enjoy higher integration between their services and products.

Operations & Distribution

Digitization is pushing forward Industry 4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Artificial intelligence enables the building of smart factories that operate smart machines and make automated smart decisions. Data analysis helps you take better decisions to manage your smart factories with higher efficiency and effectiveness across the value chain. Most importantly, these digital trends help you more efficiently build products and services around a mass customization model, thus, delighting more customers.

Finance

It goes without saying that with more customers and higher efficiency, digitization helps you generate higher profits. These digital trends also make it easier for you to provide a much wider array of payment options to your customers. They also make it faster for you to collect your payments and manage your in-cash flow. For instance, technologies such as Blockchain can help you get paid automatically via smart contract applications.

How to make the digital transformation?

According to BCG, around 70% of digital transformation initiatives fail. The reason? Implementation! Digital transformation is one of those things that are easier said than done. Everyone knows it’s coming; everyone knows the change is inevitable, but almost no one can make the change. Here are our recommendations for how you can smoothly steer a digital transformation initiative.

1. Start small

The first thing you want to do is build a success story. Find an area in your organization that will significantly benefit from the transformation, and apply the change there. Make sure as well that this area has the talent necessary to do the job. Once a success story is created, you can now use it to scale digital transformation.

2. Build the business case

For digital transformation to work, you need to be the transformation champion. Take your success story and make a huge internal marketing campaign about it. Make sure everyone knows about it and inspire the change. As you promote your business case around the company, remember that numbers, pictures, and emotional stories combined can make your success story more impactful.

3. Scale to other areas

Start identifying other areas of the organization that can benefit from the transformation, and categorize them based on priority. Follow a step-by-step approach. Start with the areas that will benefit the most then move ahead from there.

4. Enable Resources

Most organizations make the mistake of thinking that they can make the transformation with little to no extra cost. But this is not true! Transformation requires allocating resources such as money, time, and effort. It can’t really succeed for free. So, make sure the resources are available for your great feat.

5. Mobilize Talent

You cannot make any big change without people on board. A digital transformation initiative is a great opportunity to partner with learning and development to help you achieve your organizational objectives. Employees must receive training both on the digital transformation imperative and on the specific skills they will need to make the change happen in their area of work.

6. Build non-digital processes first

One mistake that companies often make with digital transformation is that they assume they can build highly-digitized processes on top of unorganized inefficient non-digital processes, but that makes the transition longer and full of flaws. A better way to go about it is to transform your manual processes to lean, efficient processes, then make the digital move.

These were our recommendations on how to lead digital transformation in your organization and why you need to do it now. If you are ready and would like to deliver training for your employees to prepare them for the shift, please check our digital transformation courses here.

 

 

 

Top Tips for Selecting a Business English Program

In an increasingly globalized world, an estimated 244 million people live in a country other than their country of origin and global trade has been increasing over the past decade reaching a record high of $28.5 trillion in 2021. Matching this geographical expansion in employment and business, companies’ workforces are becoming increasingly diverse, bringing together people from varying languages and cultures into single, sometimes geographically dispersed, teams. But how do these teams perform? Their performance greatly hinges on their ability to communicate effectively using a common language and a shared cultural understanding. To most organizations, this is where Business English online programs come in. According to international statistics, $9.6 billion were spent in 2020 alone on English Language learning as more companies and individuals strive to enhance their global competitiveness.

But almost anyone who has tried to learn a foreign language has been through the dilemma of trying to find an effective course and, in particular, a course that one can commit to for a more extended period of time. To help you through this hassle, we have compiled some important features that signal that you have found an effective Business English course. So, next time you are selecting a program for your company’s employees, you know what to look for.

1: It’s not just an English language program; it’s a Business English program

You may think this does not matter, but the truth is there are 171,146 words in the English language, and only 1.4 % of them are used in daily life, even less in business contexts. So, to reduce learning clutter and sift through the learning curve, simply go for a course that actually teaches you the grammatical structures and vocabulary relevant to your target use. Extrapolating on this point, the more industry-tailored the program, the more effective, since you’ll be learning material that is directly relevant to your needs and you can put instantly to application.

2: It reflects sound instructional design

A well-designed business English course would include pre-assessments that determine your employees’ levels and it will feature a learning journey that takes learners through a sequence of logically-organized modules that build on each other. Moreover, important to learning in general and language learning in particular, an effective language learning program would employ the Velcro effect where learners get presented with new information within a larger context of previously learned information. In a Velcro-based course, new information presented at any given time would not exceed 20% of all information presented. So, courses that simply present learners with 100% new vocabulary every lesson are not a very good idea. Yes, your employees will seem to learn more each lesson, but they will be challenged with a high cognitive load. They will also tend to forget what they learn as the Velcro effect naturally embeds the spacing effect in the learning design. In case you’re wondering what that is, the spacing effect is the observation that repetitions spaced in time produce stronger retention than repetitions massed closer together in time. So, a Velcro-based program will not only enhance your employees’ comprehension but also boost their retention.

3: It is designed with a high level of interactivity

According to the learning pyramid theory, we retain only 30% of what we read, see, and hear, but this retention level significantly increases as we engage more actively with the learning material. So, it is important as you choose a business language program for your employees that you select a program that features higher interactivity. Steer away from the read-and-watch kind of programs, rather look for programs that enable discussions, presentations, practice, role-playing, and problem-solving. 

4: It is skill, not knowledge, based

A typical instructional design flaw in many available language courses is the unnecessary high focus on the acquisition of grammar and vocabulary knowledge while demonstrating a high disregard for skill acquisition. In the end, language is a competence that is based on four skills: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. It is true that these skills are based on knowledge of grammar and vocabulary but focusing on knowledge at the expense of skills makes one know a lot ‘about’ the language without actually knowing the language. In fact, skill practicing in an effective language learning program should constitute 80% of the course.

5: It’s an immersive and task-based program

If the business language program is immersed in the business requirements of your company’s employees, the chances are employees will commit more strongly to the program and will find it more engaging and useful. By being immersed, we mean that the program provides opportunities for your company’s employees to complete their work-related tasks with the help of the program. Perhaps, you have an employee who has an important presentation to deliver in the English language or who needs to prepare for an important negotiation in the English language. A program that aids learners in completing such tasks is considered immersive. In an immersive program, learners learn the language, not with the purpose of learning the language, but with the purpose of completing a work-related task using the language. 

6: It leverages effective feedback

Have you ever heard the adage, ‘practice makes perfect?’ 

Well, we’re here to tell you it’s wrong! Practice without feedback will only make you perfect at making mistakes. This is why an effective business language program will not be a program solely focused on teaching, but it will also have a one-on-one coaching or feedback component.

7: It’s not only a language program but also a cultural program

There’s no better ROI than hitting two birds with one stone! With a business English program that features a cultural focus, you ensure that your employees do not only succeed in learning the language and communicating within a global context, but you also ensure that they acquire the cultural sensitivity needed for them to navigate an increasingly global work environment and build more harmonious global teams.

8: It fits your employees’ lifestyle

We all know this! Language learning is not a hit-and-run course; it’s a long-term commitment that could extend for 550-900 hours to achieve fluency. A wise decision here would be to select a program whose modalities and schedule fit with your employees’ lifestyles and work schedules to guarantee commitment and completion.

 

This is our list of the eight top features to look for in a Business English language program to help you achieve the highest training ROI. So, next time you need to select a business English language program for your company’s employees, you will be able to make the right choice that gives you the most bang for your buck. 

What XpertLearning Can Do for You?

At XpertLearning, we are aware of how Business English language learning programs can greatly enhance the performance of your global teams, this is why we provide several Business English learning solutions, through our partners, that vary from self-paced programs to blended programs and personalized coaching. To know more about our language solutions, please  visit here.

 

 

Top Ten Questions to Ask When Buying an eLearning Programs

The online learning industry has grown 900% globally since its birth, giving rise to a massive range of options for selecting an eLearning program. This huge increase in options, while positive, often leaves prospective learners with a bad case of analysis paralysis or, even worse, could lead them to make wrong choices about the programs they select, rendering them dissatisfied by the end of their learning experience. To help you choose the right eLearning programs for you or your organization, in XpertLearning, we have created this list of questions you must ask before you purchase any online learning program.

Q1: Does the content match your objectives?

You must know what you want to achieve from undertaking the course in the first place. With your clear objectives in mind, you must compare your objectives with that of the course. And do not simply compare the objectives but the course outline too.

A common mistake that learners make here is that they set lofty or irrelevant goals to start with. Falling prey to ‘shiny-object syndrome’, they tend to feel an urge to achieve various learning objectives that may have little to no bearing on their careers or personal lives. To counterfeit this, put your learning objectives to the ‘Litmus test’ by asking this simple question: will I be able to immediately apply what I have learned in this course in my life?

Q2: Is the course author or presenter an expert on the topic?

As the saying goes, if you want to learn, learn from a pro. This is why it’s generally best practice to take note of the course’s author or presenter and double-check whether they are an expert on the subject matter. An excellent way of getting to an honest, objective view is to check their social profiles in search of social proof. Also, if the author or presenter has written books or blog articles on the topic before, they are worth a try before you enroll in the online course and dive in at the deep end.

Q3: Is the course content visually appealing?

You might think this is an unnecessary luxury but this is content that you’ll be viewing for hours on end. So do not underestimate the power of aesthetics. There is nothing more than poorly designed visuals, a mismatching color pallette, and outdated graphics to distract you from your learning and off-put you throughout the learning process. Studies confirm that visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text and that good visual design significantly affects attention, comprehension, and course retention.

Q4: Is the course interactive?

The last thing you want is to find yourself reading long text for hours or passively watching videos. For you to enjoy the course, apply your learning, and retain information, you need an online course with high interactivity. Interactivity could include scenarios for you to think about, problems to solve, decisions to make, games to play, or even simulations for you to experiment with. In general, the higher the interactivity, the higher the likelihood of your meeting your learning objectives and completing the course without dropping mid-way.

Q5: Is the course updated?

The authoring date of the latest version of the course is important because knowledge and best practices are in continuous development. You do not want to be learning principles or topics that are no longer relevant to the world today. Most of the top online course providers make sure to update their courses regularly to reflect any changes. So, usually, an updated modification date is a good sign that the course will be relevant and include the latest research findings, statistics, and insights.

Q6: How long is the course?

Online courses vary in duration from 1-hr courses to courses that can take months or even years to complete. You need to be realistic about how much time you or your employees have available for the course and only purchase courses that you have time for. By that, we mean not only the time to complete the course material itself, but also the time needed to review the material, complete any necessary readings or assignments, and, most importantly, apply what has been learned in your career or life.

Another thing to look for regarding course duration is the chunk-ability of the material. Does the course apply the principles of microlearning which have proven results in improving comprehension and retention? Or does it present the material all in one big, long chunk? 

Q7: What is the course’s mode of delivery? 

Is the course synchronous or asynchronous? In other words, will you need to be available at specific times to attend the course or is it self-paced? Or does it combine both in a blended learning fashion? No particular mode of delivery is superior to others. It all boils down to your time availability or the availability of your organization’s employees along with the degree of direct contact required to maintain engagement with the course.

One other thing you may want to check is the mobile compatibility of the course. With 30% of smartphone owners already using their phones for on-the-go learning, mobile compatibility can further increase your chances of course completion and your organization’s.

Q8: What’s the social proof of the course’s effectiveness?

This is a tricky one! Many online learning providers will present you with their own customer testimonials and reviews. Although helpful, this remains to be very subjective reporting of the course’s effectiveness. So, top this with checking the course’s reviews outside the website of the provider, especially in topic-related online communities and forums.

Q9: Can you try out some part of the course before a full purchase?

This is the best proof you can get! It not only tells you whether the course meets your objectives and the learning quality standards you expect, but it also tells you if you are comfortable with the style of the course presentation. However, in some instances, this option may not be available. In this case, does the provider offer any other free learning material such as blog posts, cheat sheets, webinars, etc.? If yes, make sure to check them out to get a view of their learning material quality from a point of view that is closer to reality.

Q10: What type of after-sales or technical support do they provide? 

After-sales support is often one of the most overlooked features of an effective learning course. After all, what people care about the most is the content, accreditation, and pricing. However, if your online learning experience is disrupted by a technical glitch, you will need immediate support or your progress will halt indefinitely, sending you off track and increasing your chances of not catching up or dropping out.

Learn Like a Pro with XpertLearning

Here you go! These were the most important questions you need to ask yourself before undertaking an online course. And because we know how important these criteria are, in Xpert Learning, we incorporate the principles of instructional design, visual design, scenario-based learning, microlearning, gamification, etc. in our learning programs. To know more about our online courses, check this page here.

And that’s not all! Before we let you go, we have these four bonus questions for you which you should consider if you are purchasing an online course for your organization, not yourself.

Bonus Q1: Is this technically compatible with my organization?

You will be quite distraught if you purchase an expensive online course only to find out that it does not work or does not fully load on your organization’s LMS. This is why a good rule of thumb is to go for courses that are SCORM or AICC compliant because most LMSs support such courses. Moreover, you are also better off checking the file size of the online course to ensure it works on your LMS or organization’s servers with little to no technical lag.

Besides ensuring that the online course is technically compatible with your organization’s resources, you also need to check if it is compatible with the technical skills of the end-users– the employees. Will the employees be able to easily access the course and navigate it? Will their current gadgets and technological literacy support this course?

Bonus Q2: Does this course support your organization’s diversity & inclusion strategy?

Effective organizations in an increasingly globalized world employ a diverse and inclusive workforce. So to make sure that everyone in the organization benefits from the course you are purchasing, you must check the course’s accessibility features. Does it incorporate Universal Design for Learning principles? Is it consistent with WCAG 2.0? Does it support learners using assistive technologies?

You should also check the languages that the course supports especially if your organization’s workforce is spread out around the globe. Can the same course be delivered in multiple languages? Does it at least come with multiple-language subtitles?

Bonus Q3: How can you assess the effectiveness of the learning process?

If you are purchasing an online course for the organization where you work, you already know that the management board always needs a business case and an ROI to justify the investment in the program. So it is an important question to ask the learning provider if they offer pre and/or post-course assessments and surveys to enable you to track the course’s learning effectiveness and capture its ROI.

Bonus Q4: Can you have it customized to your needs?

Perhaps you have specific learning objectives that you need to achieve across your organization that cannot be met by any off-the-shelf learning program. Or perhaps you prefer that all learning courses taken in your organization present your organization’s brand. In these cases and more, you are better off working with a learning provider that can create ‘custom content’ for you. Several online learning providers provide that option but you are highly advised to check some of their previous works before you dive full-length.

What XpertLearning Can Do for You?

At XpertLearning, we are aware of these needs, this is why our solutions vary from learning management systems that help you measure the effectiveness of your programs to online off-the-shelf courses and custom content that can be tailored to your specific needs and brand. To know more about how we can help you, please contact us at enquiries@xpertlearning.com.

 

 

Four Tips for Women Leadership

Women have gone a long way in building careers for themselves and maintaining a healthy balance between work and family. However, although women represent 48% of the employees entering the workplace every year, only 21% of them eventually make it to C-Suite leadership roles. And this is not because of gender bias or discrimination but rather because of the deeply-rooted inclinations of women. 

This is why, in XpertLearning, we have decided to support these women at the top and other aspiring women with our top tips to become great women leaders.

 

Tip 1: Be comfortable with authoritative behavior

Research by Deborah Gruenfeld, Professor of Leadership & Organizational Behavior at Stanford University, proposes that when it comes to power, there are two opposite extremes: authoritativeness and approachability; with most women lying towards the approachable end of the spectrum. First of all, what do these dimensions mean?

– Being authoritative means behaving in a way that emanates the impression that you are in charge, able to make decisions, able to give directions, and have more privileged knowledge and experience than others. 

– Being approachable, on the other end of the spectrum, means behaving in a way that makes you seem more open, empathetic, willing to take others’ knowledge & experience into account, and relating to others on a human level. 

Wondering why most women tend to consistently demonstrate approachable behavior? Because for centuries, women have been socialized to be nice, sweet, and likable, which has made approachability almost second nature to them. Although this approachability helps women a lot at the beginning of their careers, it is exactly this approachability that works against them when they start climbing the organizational ladder. Being less ready to demonstrate authoritative behavior than men, they tend to be seen as less competent or less directive– impressions that make them drop in the list of potential senior leadership candidates. 

So, how can women start being more authoritative?

Deborah Gruenfeld proposes you start by taking up more space. Feel free to demonstrate expansive body language that shows that you are relaxed in your position. Moreover, cultivate the habit of speaking your mind with openness, without seeking approval in the eyes of others. In meetings, focus less on taking notes and more on contributing to the discussion. Simply demonstrate confidence in your knowledge, experience, and right to be there.

 

 

Tip 2: Switch comfortably between being authoritative and approachable

The infamous ‘Heidi versus Howard Roizen’ case study pioneered by Harvard University has unfortunately shown that in leadership roles, although men and women behave the same, they are perceived differently, doing the same things. In the research, participants are presented with a story of a career person as they navigate their way up the corporate ladder. The trick, though, is that the protagonist of the story is ‘Howard Roizen’ in the control group and ‘Heidi Roizen’ in the experimental group. The findings? Striking! Although participants rank both Howard and Heidi equally competent, when asked who they would rather work with or hire, the choice is predominantly ‘Howard’. Simply, Heidi seems way less likable than Howard although they behave in the same way! 

The simple reason behind this lies in the societal expectations of both men and women. People have been hardwired to expect women to be more approachable and find it unappealing when women behave otherwise. That should not discourage women from experimenting more with authoritative behavior. The best advice is to balance both styles in the workplace. Women need to assess the situations where they need to be more authoritative and then should permit themselves to be so. In all other situations, feel free to be as approachable as an effective leader should be, and do not jeopardize your likability.

 

 

Tip 3: Don’t go out till you’re out!

In a widely-shared speech for Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, she explains that she has observed that there comes an age in every woman’s life where she seems to be expecting a career exit as she plans to build a family. Women in these situations, as per Sandberg, often start implicitly exiting from work while still being employed. They simply show less enthusiasm about joining new projects or working hard for the next promotion. They simply exit before actually existing. Sandberg advises women to push through till their last day of employment. Her reason? If you leave the workplace with a track record of success, you are likely to have something to come back for when you are done with your career break.

 

 

Tip 4: Desire leadership if you want it 

Research by Cornell University has shown significant results too, further enforcing that there are other reasons than bias lying behind the gender gap in corporate leadership. The main culprit according to this research is that women “associate more negative outcomes (e.g., time constraints and tradeoffs) with high-power positions, perceive power as less desirable, and are less likely to take advantage of opportunities for professional advancement. Women view high-level positions as equally attainable as men do, but less desirable”.

The basic finding in this research is that women are not as excited about being in leadership positions as men. They seem more aware of the high cost of these roles as they tend to have more life goals than men. Our advice to you is to make the choice that works for you. If you are unwilling to pay that high cost, then do not stress yourself into making compromises that risk your life goals. But if you are willing to pay that cost, then go for what you want. What you need to do first is assess your life goals and make a choice. 

Parting Words

These were our four tips to become a woman leader. These tips should not distract you from working hard and smart, however. Because regardless of how you are perceived, achieving tangible work results is still the number one secret behind career success.

 

 

Agile Leadership for an Agile World

 

In a world with everchanging conditions and unexpected events, the age-old five-year strategies and action plans are suddenly being replaced by agile strategies and plans. And agile strategies and plans require agile organizations and leaders. But what is agile? How can it really help a business thrive in this age of flux? And if it really is helpful, how can organizations build agile cultures and leaders?

If you’re interested in answering these questions, read on to know more about how to develop an agile organization and leadership.

First things first, what is Agile?

Agile is a project management methodology that originated in the software development industry in the early 2000s. Contrary to the waterfall methodology, it is a methodology that focuses on continuous iteration and open communication to meet changing customers’ needs. The principles and values that govern the Agile methodology have been outlined in the Agile Manifesto which was created by some of the notable Agile leaders of software development in 2001.

 

 

Agile Values

The Agile Manifesto outlines four values that make it easy to understand what Agile management is all about. Here are the values that Agile teams live by:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

In a fast-paced world with changing customers’ needs, as a leader, you need to put less emphasis on process and more emphasis on people. That includes all aspects of people management starting from hiring the right people all the way to motivating them. The focus here is on achieving results fast by leveraging ‘people power’ rather than following long processes that may or may not achieve results.

At the heart of this value too lies the Agile focus on face-to-face interaction as a more effective and time-efficient alternative to emails and reports to save time and create opportunities for fruitful collaboration.

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Due to its origins in the software development field, this value emphasizes the importance of working software. For leaders from other industries, however, tangible results can be used as a substitute for ‘working software’. Read this way, this value emphasizes results over documentation. A 2019 State of Work report released by Workfront surprisingly shows that employees on average spend around 60% of their time on tasks unrelated to their primary jobs. But as an Agile leader, you need to maximize your team’s amount of time spent on achieving results.

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Agile leaders understand that the reason they are in business is to serve the customer. They also understand that both they and the customers may not start out with a clear understanding of their own requirements. Moreover, what the customer wants can always change.

This is why one of the tenants of Agile leadership is maintaining a continuous two-way channel of communication with customers to understand their changing needs. The trick, though, is not only to understand these changes but to respond fast enough to them. Cue in the fourth value.

Responding to change over following a plan

Agile management shatters the deep-set perception of a manager as someone who sets a long-term plan and then spends the remainder of their time following up on its progress. Instead, as an Agile leader, you understand that plans are not set to be followed but rather to be continuously changed. An Agile leader emphasizes the continuous collection of customer feedback and the continuous creation of plans that act on this feedback.

It is important to note, though, that the Agile Manifesto dubbed these values with this statement, ‘that is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.’ That is to say that Agile teams do not operate with zero documentation, customer contracts, processes, or plans. The crux of the matter is that they do not prioritize them. In an Agile team, if you must choose between results or process, choose results. If you need to choose between changing requirements or following a long-set plan, welcome the change.

 

 

Building Agile Organizations

Of course, such as with everything in life, these values may seem easier said than done, so to help you put these Agile values into practice and move towards becoming an Agile leader, here are some of the main aspects you may need to work on in your organizational transformation process. 

Teams

Structure your teams to be multi-disciplinary and structure your workspace to be an open space that allows for face-to-face communication. For multi-disciplinary teams to be effective, try to reduce hierarchy and promote self-organized teams. Build both a process and a culture for peer-to-peer accountability and distributed leadership. Processes that can help you with this are setting daily stand-up meetings or weekly retrospectives among team members, championing cross-functional self-led initiatives, and encouraging small-scale risk-taking.

Processes

Making the shift to Agile does not mean eradicating all company processes and simply drifting on free-float mode. As per the theory of constraints, individuals become more creative in the presence of constraints, not the lack thereof. Therefore, you still need to have a few processes, but the trick is to have as few processes as possible to structure work and spur creativity.

Strategies

Being an agile leader does not mean operating in a state of total lack of strategy. Instead, another word for strategy in an agile organization is ‘direction’. An agile strategy helps give your employees direction as to where the company is going, why, and how. 

Stanford professor of Organizational Behavior, Jesper Sorensen, draws the analogy between your company strategy and a good story. He advises that your strategy is your company story. If you are going to tell someone a story about what your company is, what it’s doing, and why it will succeed, will the story hold together? If the story holds, you have got a good strategy. If the story does not hold, you need to work on pivoting your strategy. As Jeff Bezos puts it, ‘Be stubborn on the vision and strategy and flexible on the details and tactics.’  

Learning & Experimentation:

At the heart of Agile is the core belief that an effective organization never stops learning from its customers, markets, and its own mistakes. This is why, as an Agile leader, it is essential that you promote a culture of risk-taking and learning from mistakes. 

Promoting such a culture cannot work without putting the appropriate structures in place. For example, perhaps you can set your team members’ workload to be 80% results-focused and 20% learning-focused. You can even set learning and innovation goals and KPIs or perhaps you can set a monthly team event where failures resulting from active innovation and experimentation are celebrated.

There are many ways by which you can make the transition to becoming an Agile leader. Start with the ones you are more comfortable with then move to the more challenging ones.

 

 

Agile Principles

Before you go ahead in your journey of transition, we would like to leave you with the twelve Agile principles as developed in the Manifesto. 

These principles were originally created to meet the needs of the software development industry, but we have tweaked them to meet the needs of almost any industry:

  • Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of results.
  • Welcome changing requirements, even late in product development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  • Deliver results frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  • Business people and product developers must work together daily throughout the product development process.
  • Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  • The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a team is face-to-face conversation.
  • Results that match customers’ requirements are the primary measure of progress.
  • Agile processes promote sustainable development. All team members should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  • Continuous attention to product excellence and good design enhances agility.
  • Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.
  • The best products, services, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  • At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

 

Start Agile Now

This was a simple introduction to what Agile management is and how you can live its values and principles. If you feel overwhelmed by this all, simply make these four areas at the center of your focus: people, customers, change, and results. For more in-depth information about Agile management, check our online courses  HERE.

How We Can Help

At XpertLearning, we have some of the best online leadership development programs that you can use to upskill your teams and build your next generation of leaders. Contact us at enquiries@xpertlearning.com for more information.

 

 

XpertLearning and Educhain Announce Strategic Partnership

June 2022-  Dubai-based XpertLearning, a leading provider of Digital Learning, Talent, and Performance solutions in the Middle East, announces its strategic partnership with Educhain, a Canadian startup using blockchain technology to build software solutions for academic institutions, governments, and employers.  This partnership is designed to offer blockchain technology and implement a distributed database system, where all academic institutions can contribute to one shared database of cryptographic records.

Blockchain technology has significantly evolved in recent years.  However, many people don’t realize how blockchain can help their company with data management and security.  With Educhain products, we are set out to solve the problem by finding a way to help Institutions and universities kickstart digital transformation, to drive value for them, their students, and the recipients of their documents, like governments and employers.

“XpertLearning are constantly looking at partnerships with new technologies so we can bring them to our region. As Blockchain becomes not just about cryptocurrency and more about solving real-world challenges we are delighted to partner with Educhain to bring these solutions to the Middle East” said Paul Michael Gledhill, Co-founder – XpertLearning.

“With our technical background, we found that blockchain technology was the key to empowerment. Educhain leverages blockchain technology to implement a distributed database system where all academic institutions can contribute towards one shared database of cryptographic records, thereby mutualizing their infrastructure and eliminating redundant third parties while enabling seamless verification of academic records” quoted Gary Liang, Director – Educhain.

In this sense, we are building an infrastructure of trust for academic institutions to both enable instant issuance and authentication of digital credentials and create a comprehensive “academic passport” aggregating academic achievements and records for students to own and share.

 

About XpertLearning (https://xpertlearning.com/) is an award-winning Dubai-based privately held consultancy focused on providing Digital Learning, Talent, and Performance solutions to Corporate, Academic, and Government sectors. XpertLearning has, in a short time, become the key thought leader of online integrated systems within the Middle East.  XpertLearning has secured consistent revenue and profit growth since its inception and builds on an admirable business model of sustainability and corporate social responsibility. XpertLearning is passionate in providing solutions to aid the development for the performance of people within your organization.

About Educhain (https://educhain.io) is a Canadian startup using blockchain technology to build software solutions for academic institutions, governments, and employers. Its flagship solution is the first comprehensive, digital “passport” of student academic achievement – placing ownership of academic records into the hands of the student and providing them with global mobility, allowing them to choose what to share, with whom, and by what means.

 

 

LMS – An Essential Part of Your E-learning Program

E-learning has been around for more than two decades now, and with the rise in digital learning content, the importance of Learning Management Systems (LMS) is also increasing. In fact, in 2021, 98% of large companies were using an LMS to deliver their training; 96% of midsize companies were doing the same; and 80% of small companies were also following suit, according to the latest training industry magazine report. Most of these companies use LMSs to support their employees’ learning throughout the employee development lifecycle, mainly in areas such as:

● Upskilling and reskilling
● Compliance training
● On-boarding and pre-boarding
● Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging
● Certifications and more

LMS for Corporates

There are many reasons why Learning Management Systems (LMS) are considered essential for e-learning programs and are being used all over the world, by many organizations. Companies of all sizes need some form of training and learning management system. It’s no wonder that Learning Management Systems are becoming so popular — these systems manage the business-critical work of training employees, customers, and partners/resellers. They provide an easier way for organizations to manage their learners’ needs in one central place, helping them learn the skills they need to do their jobs better.

When employed by corporations, LMSs help employees stay up to date on company policies and best practices and obtain the necessary industry, functional, or state-mandated certifications. Learning Management Systems (LMS) can be used by companies to provide learning programs in a variety of formats to large groups of employees as well as assess their progress and provide testing for company compliance. Overall, they enable companies to create, manage, track, and report on employee training.

Not only that but Learning Management Systems ensure that your employees are learning the skills they need. Modern LMSs use artificial intelligence and data analysis to accurately assess your employees’ current skill gap as well as their skill needs for the future. LMSs today are also enhanced with a variety of powerful tools that help increase your learners’ engagement. These tools vary from gamification tools such as badges, levels, leader boards, etc. to social collaboration features that enable the building of discussion forums and communities of practice. Learn more

These value-adding features of LMSs are why most companies already have at least one LMS or even several ones in the case of many larger organizations. This fact helps to explain why the market for Learning Management Systems is one of the oldest and most mature of all the various HR technology platforms.

LMS for Education

 

LMS for Educational Institutions

Learning Management Systems have brought about significant developments in the education field as well, particularly in the facilitation of distance learning. It has made education more accessible and has allowed for new methods to be incorporated into the learning process. In the world of education, an LMS can be used by schools and universities to distribute course content, monitor student performance, and even conduct virtual classrooms. In fact, as of 2020, according to the 2020 Capterra report, 64% of K-12 schools and 36% of higher education colleges and universities have been using an LMS.

One of the best advantages that Learning Management Systems can offer educational institutions is the ability to reduce time spent on administrative tasks and focus more time on quality teaching, research, and counselling. Owing to that, even before the pandemic, almost 89% of higher education faculty already used some of the features of an LMS mainly to optimize administrative tasks such as posting curricula, collecting and grading assignments, and maintaining a continuous channel of communication with their students.

More importantly, there is increased evidence that using an LMS increases the effectiveness of the learning process as LMSs introduce new ways of driving student interaction with the learning content. LMSs enable faculty and teachers to present their courses entirely or partially in digital format leveraging tools such as scenario-based learning, simulations, and gamification, all of which have proven empirical evidence to enhance students’ comprehension and application of the subject matter. Moreover, LMSs enable educational institutions to provide their learning courses in a digital format both synchronously and asynchronously, thereby expanding the reach of their student base and reaching out to students who would have been otherwise marginalized.

As a result of this long list of benefits that educational institutions gain from using an LMS, more and more academic institutions are working towards adopting an LMS and integrating more of its features in their learning processes, so much so that the global LMS market is projected to grow to $40.95 billion by 2029, at a CAGR of 14.2%, with the academic segment accounting for the larger part of this growth. Is your educational institution lagging behind? Then maybe it’s about time to look into an LMS.

What to Look for in an LMS?

There are many different types of LMSs available, but there are some basic features that you should look for in any system you choose:

-You should be able to create courses in a variety of formats, including HTML, Flash, PDF, Word, and Excel.

-You should be able to upload your own learning material and make it available to learners.

– You should be able to manage learners’ grades and receive notifications when a learner needs extra support or needs to do make-up work.

-You should be able to set up assessments such as quizzes and tests so that learners can receive feedback on how they are doing.

-You should be able to track learners’ progress over time and provide feedback on their performance so that you can help them achieve their learning goals.

Conclusion

Learning Management Systems have undergone many changes over the years. They are becoming more and more sophisticated while at the same time, they are getting easier to use. With all of this in mind, it’s safe to say that LMSs will continue to be a core element in any successful online program. If you are driving e-learning in your organization, or want to deliver life-changing teaching and learning experiences at your institution, then you need an LMS to support and measure your objectives.  If you don’t have an LMS, it’s time to start looking into one. If you are working with one now, take a look at how it’s performing. Maybe it has room for some upgrades. Either way, the learning management system is a critical component of any e-learning program.

How We Can Help

At XpertLearning, we work with the best and most popular LMS software providers like Cornerstone OnDemand, Sumtotal systems, Totara, Blackboard, and OpenLMS to give you a one-stop solution, great pricing options and excellent customer support. Contact us for a demo!

 

-XpertLearning

 

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