Product Walkthrough: TrainMe for Microsoft Lync
TrainMe is a training delivery mechanism, designed for use with Microsoft Lync. It is offered in various forms by Modality Systems. This blog post will introduce the product, why it’s useful and walk through some of it’s main features.
The Training Problem
Delivering training is hard. People are too busy and it’s too expensive to take them out of their jobs for a day, unless it’s really important. Ironically, the people who most need the training are often the people who always seem to be so busy – inefficiency doesn’t scale well.
That means that if you want to deliver training to people you need to find a way for them to fit this into their day jobs. That’s even harder.
Breaking it Down
It’s hard to get training to people because they’re too busy to set aside a big chunk of time dedicated to bettering themselves. What’s the answer? Small, bitesize pieces of training, which they can dip into when they get a second.
So, how to deliver this collection of small chunks? I know! Email! That’s the answer. Right?
We already email far too much. Email triage is a serious problem, and your collection of bite-sized training material will have no chance of being looked at alongside such diverse topics as the complicated way in which your holiday will be calculated next year, and the state of kitchen.
We need a way of knowing when you aren’t busy, and suggesting that now is a good time to get some training done.
TrainMe is a training delivery system, optimised for Microsoft Lync environments. TrainMe can monitor your activity, know when you’re busy and keep out of your way. When you’re available, it can suggest that you do some training. Training is delivered as small, bitesize videos, easily accessible from within Microsoft Lync. No clicking, no navigation, no login, no fuss.
Here’s a walkthrough:
I work for a company which has TrainMe. My boss has signed me up for some Lync training, so my account has been associated with a bunch of training videos. I’m a busy person, so my status is constantly changing from “In a Call” to “In a meeting”, to “Away”. Sometimes, however, I’m just “Available”. The first time my status changes to Available (or I sign in with a status of Available) I get a popup from TrainMe:
I can either ignore this, or click it. If I ignore it, it won’t happen again today. If I ignore it enough times, it’ll stop altogether. It’s a subtle reminder that there is some training which I have to undertake, but which I haven’t yet completed.
If I do decide to click it, this is what I see:
This is the TrainMe Dashboard. On the right hand side I can play any training videos I have access to (even ones I’ve already watched). On the left hand side (the actual conversation with the bot) I’m reminded what it is I should be watching. This is based on a knowledge the bot has about what order the training should be delivered in, and what I’ve already watched.
If I want to watch a training item, I can click the title at the top, and the video will show in the same window:
I can play, pause, fullscreen, the usual things. Once I’ve watched a certain portion of the video (set up by the administrator) then I’m marked as having watched that piece of content. That means I won’t be nagged about it again, and next time I look at this the bot will recommend me something else to watch.
At any time I can find the bot in my contact list and interact with it to return to this screen (I don’t have to wait for a reminder message).
The Admin Stuff
As a TrainMe administrator you can tailor the experience that users get:
- Obviously, you get to choose the content. You can also set the order – so you can create a training program that mandates video X must be followed by video Y etc.
- You can define what percentage of the video needs to be watched in order to fulfill the system definition of “watched”. For instance, by default, this is 90%, so if a user skips the last 2 seconds the system won’t be fooled into thinking they haven’t really seen it all.
- You can customise the messages which appear to users, reminding them of unwatched training content.
- You can customise how many times users get reminded about content when they’re available. By default, this is 3 times. Whatever happens, they’ll only be reminded once a day, so this means 3 days of reminding. Once they watch whatever it was they were being reminded about, the counter resets and start being reminded about the next thing.
- !Managerial Big Bonus Alert! Because users are receiving training within a structured content delivery environment, you get full reporting about who has received what training and when, who hasn’t received training, and who has been reminded but ignored training requests. Your job just got easier.
I think this is a genuinely new way of delivering training content to busy people. TrainMe reminds you about your training obligations, but gets out of the way if there really are better things you should be doing. It’s easy to receive the content and keep on top of what you need to be learning. From the other side of the table, it’s easy to set-up, is always on, and provides great insight into training coverage and need.
If you use Microsoft Lync (including Office 365!) and are interested in TrainMe, there’s more information on the Modality product page, or there’s a product brochure (PDF). There are also trials available and a beta program for new releases of the software, so if that’s something you’d be interested in, make contact with Modality from that page and make yourself known.