Top 10 Tips to Create a Corporate Learning Community of Practice

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In our last post, we shared about what is a corporate learning community of practice, the different types of community of practice and how to establish them. In this 2nd post, we are going to build on the list we read online about how to create a corporate learning community of practice. If the spontaneous type of corporate learning communities of practice is not what you are looking at and you wish to create a more structured corporate learning community of practice, do read on for the top 10 tips to create a corporate learning community of practice.

Top 10 Tips to Create a Corporate Learning Community of Practice

1. Using SMART To Set Clear Objectives.

In order for any quality teaching/coaching/mentoring to take place, it is always important to have a clear vision of the goals and objectives of the learning outcomes. Hence, before creating the corporate learning community of practice, it is critical to first identify the reason why such a learning community should be created and what are the desired learning outcomes. Is the community supposed to fine tune certain work processes? Is it created to improve the performance of a certain department or work flow? The objectives can be set using SMART, a mnemonic acronym, as a guide.

source: featurepictures.com

source: featurepictures.com

S: Specific–Be specific when setting the objectives

M: Measurable–The objectives should be quantifiable or measurable to indicate progress or success.

A: Achievable–Ensure that the objectives are attainable by being realistic about time factors, capacity of resources and knowledge of members.

R: Realistic– Be realistic when trying to set the objectives. Review the resources you have and the challenges that might be faced

T: Time-related–Indicate a specific timeline to track progress

2. Establish A Corporate Learning Community Of Practice Plan Or Infrastructure.

Unless it is a spontaneous type of corporate learning communities, there should be a specific plan or infrastructure of  where and when meetings will be held, how the communication between members will take place as well as the strategies the group might be looking at. This provides the members a clear picture of how the community of practice will function and the expectations of them in that community.

3. Be Aware of The Experience And Knowledge Each Member Brings To The Table.

Although members of the corporate learning community of practice need not be experts in their fields, it is crucial to understand what each of the member can contribute to the group before the formation of the community. Ideally, a corporate learning community of practice should consist of a diverse group of individuals, each being able to provide different types of knowledge or experience to the group. If it is a company wide learning community, it will be important to involve at least one personnel from every department. If it is a learning community targeting to improve work processes in a department, the community should include a diverse mix of employees with varying years of experience and skill sets.

4. Set The Tone Right During The First Meeting.

The first meeting, or the introductory meeting, is important to set the tone right. There should be time allocated for members to meet one another and network, as well as time for them to begin discussing the goals and objectives. This will facilitate their progress and increase their effectiveness as part of the learning community and allow them to be comfortable to share knowledge and expertise.

5. Appoint A Moderator Or A Facilitator

There should always be a appointed moderator or facilitator in any learning community of practice . This individual will help facilitate the sharing of knowledge, guide discussions during meetings ensure that the groups are on task, monitoring progress and success and even serve as a liaison between the community and the organization. This individual should be someone who is knowledgeable in the topics that will be addressed by the community and is someone members of the community respect and can communicate easily with.

6. Regular Meetings

Another key determining factor of whether a corporate learning community is successful or not is whether the community holds regular meetings. The meetings serve as a platform for sharing and collaboration to take place as well as for immediate feedback to be given. If the learning communities do not meet regularly, members may not have the chance to provide direct input or to communicate.

7. Making Use Of Social Media Platforms and Forums

Social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Evernote as well as online forums are important tools for sharing, communication and collaboration amongst group members. Resources and knowledge can be shared easily using these platforms. When members share using these platforms, face to face meetings can be more focused on purely providing feedback or direct input.

8. Project Management Software Tools Can Serve As Virtual Headquarters

Project management software tools such as Basecamp, Zoho and Teamwork can help keep the community well organised and focused on task. These tools normally allow communities to share documents, assign tasks, keep track of deadlines with a community calender and serve very well as a virtual base camp for the learning community.

9. Organization’s Support

Any corporate learning community of practice should receive support from the organization in order for it to sustain and be successful.  These communities might need access to resources, monetary support, or even tools to achieve the targets and objectives. In the long run, the stronger the support from the organization, the better the chances of the community of practice achieving the objectives.

10. Garner Feedback From Employees To Identify Issues and Areas Of Improvement

We can have many great ideas about what direction the communities of practice should be and what are the issues employees face, but realistically speaking, employees on the ground know best the issues or the weakness that the corporate learning community of practice should focus on. Hence it is important to gather feedback from the employees to know which are the areas to channel resources to. It will help the community to develop and plan their progress.

If you have missed out on our first post on What is a Corporate Learning Community of Practice, do click on this link  to read about it.

In our next post, we will be sharing on “The Benefits of Creating the Communities of Practice”, and “How ELearning and Mobile Learning Can Support It”. If you have any tips to add on to our list, feel free to have a discussion with us by leaving your comments below!

Developing Communities of Practice to Increase Revenue

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We have been reading up on ways to help companies increase profits, create brand awareness and increase customer loyalty in order for them to stand out amongst competitors. We came across a couple of websites discussing about creating and developing communities of practices as the new differentiator ( we will mention them below) and we decided to learn more on how to create and develop a corporate community of practice, in order for companies to have the new differentiator as a leverage. In this 3 part blog series, the first post will be on “What is a Corporate Learning Community of Practice, What Type of Community of Practice should Corporations Go Into, and How a Company Can Establish a Community of Practice”. The second post will be on the “Top 10 Tips to Creating a Community of Practice” and finally the last post will be on “The Benefits of Creating the Communities of Practice, (aka kaching!) and How ELearning and Mobile Learning Can Support It”.

What is a Corporate Learning Community of Practice?

source: phf.org

source: phf.org

Two definitions stem from Lave and Wenger’s 1991 work, the feature-based definition and the process-based definition. The feature-based definition simply comes from the words “community” and ‘practice”. Therefore a corporate learning community of practice refers to a community, in this case, employees, who share their professional knowledge through practice, rather than learning from experts or guidebooks. Employees mainly go through processes of joint problem solving, rather than from a more instructivist approach of experts or researchers transmitting knowledge to learners.

The process-based definition defines community of practice as “the process of knowledge generation, application, and reproduction is which communities are in a constant process of legitimate peripheral participation”. Through the participation, learners enter a community and gradually learn the practices. Over time, group habits and group identity may form, resulting in more and more central practices of the group.

“Employees mainly go through processes of joint problem solving, rather than from a more instructivist approach of experts or researchers transmitting knowledge to learners.”

Suppose you have a team of repairmen for printing machines. Instead of relying on manuals or attending workshops learning how the machines work and how to repair the machines, the repairmen can probably understand how to repair the machines more through the hands on experience or from one another while at work.

Corporate Learning communities of practice may be organized by an organization or through the employees’ initiatives. Participants may work in the same job role within an organization or cross departments. The communities can help with the mentoring of new employees who just joined the company, help disseminate processes and information as well as to engage in innovation projects to improve work processes or solve problems. The environment encourage collaboration of tasks, sharing of knowledge and resources as well as promoting professional development.

What Type of Community of Practice Should Corporations Go Into?

There are mainly 2 types of Communities of Practice, the self-organizing community of practice and the sponsored community of practice.

COP2Self-organizing community of practice pursue the shared interests of the members in the group. They usually add value to the organization by sharing best practices, learning points from various situations/scenarios, providing solutions to issues and challenges through informal sharing or common learning platforms like forums. Due to the informal nature of such communities, (they usually arise because there is a need from the employees), they are less structured, less organised, but extremely resilient. There is no fixed management nor control over such communities as members come and go, depending on their professional needs, but the communities are resilient as they adapt over time and sharing of expertise and knowledge will increase broadly.

Sponsored communities of practice are initiated, managed and supported by the management. These communities of  practice will be expected to produce quantifiable results or direct benefits to the company. There is more structure to these communities and formal roles, responsibilities and meetings will be assigned. In sponsored communities of practice, there will be distinctive objectives and targets to be achieved in terms of  learning and collaboration from colleagues, leverage on the learning to increase productivity,improve efficiency, generating revenue, or tangible value-added benefits for the corporation.

“There will be distinctive objectives and targets to be achieved in terms of  learning and collaboration from colleagues, leverage on the learning to increase productivity,improve efficiency, generating revenue, or tangible value-added benefits for the corporation.”

The expected outcomes for sponsored communities of practice will vary but in general, it should compass the following:

  • Fostering learning
  • Encouraging interaction
  • Sharing professional knowledge or even creating new knowledge
  • Identifying and learning from best practice

Whether a corporation decides to have self-organizing communities of practice or sponsored communities of practice depends on the work related function of the role or profession. Generally, a sponsored community of practice would be more ideal when corporations want to :

  • Innovate
  • Manage knowledge
  • Generate intellectual capital

In the following situations, self-organising community of practice may form:

  • Recurring problem during work process such as production, distribution, purchasing or customer sales
  • New hires

How Can You Establish a Community of Practice?

Communities of Practice can emerge through formal planned processes or spontaneously. An example for formal planned processes, is upon completion of a training or workshop, an online forum is established and employees can use it as a platform to communicate, share information as they apply the training skills they learnt.

Spontaneous communities of practice takes place any time, any where. Employees might discuss about the unique situations they face during lunch breaks or when they bump into each other at the pantry. Social media sharing and collaboration may also take place as they share resources or ask for guidance or solutions on platforms such as Twitter or Linkedin. These communities are mainly participant driven and does not require support from the management.

Corporations can also have multiple communities of practice addressing different needs with different participants. There are many ways to establish a community of practice. It can be a single approach or a multiple approach using social media platforms or tools.

“Corporations can also have multiple communities of practice addressing different needs with different participants.”

  • Social bookmarking or Sharing

Social bookmarking allows the sharing of URLs at a social level. A group can be set up for all members of the community to access. With social bookmarking applications like Diigo, notes can be added and important points can be highlighted.

Another useful tool is Evernote, where notebooks can be shared among different communities of practice and the content of the notebooks is entirely customisable. The content of the notebooks can be anything from links of articles, extracted information of company’s guides, manuals or curated information by the members. As long as the members share the notebook, anyone can add links,  extract information from articles, annotate and access the information any time they want by logging into their Evernote account.

  • Private LinkedIn groups

Linkedin groups are another possible social media platform which communities of practice can personalize, do collaborative learning and create a performance support group online. Posts can be shared and social interaction regarding unique problems can  raised and answered by the members of the group. The settings of the group can be set to private and only members of the group can see the interaction in the group. Members can then gain a sense of trust amongst one another, which will in turn enable them to feel comfortable enough to interact with one another, forming a community of support.

cop3

“Through the collaborative process, members of communities of practice can develop professionally in a continuous manner.”

Communities of practice can take place during onsite meetings as well. Through the collaborative process, members of communities of practice can develop professionally in a continuous manner. Innovative measures need not always be from a “top down” management approach, but a “bottom up” initiative originating from employees working on the ground.

In our next two posts,we will discuss 10 Tips on Creating Communities of Practice and the Benefits of Creating Communities of Practice. If you have comments or thoughts,  do share your ideas with us by leaving your comments below!

If you are interested, these are the online resources we have been reading on to learn more about Community of Practice.

1. What is a Community of Practice and How Can We Support It? 

2. Two Kinds of Communities of Practice

3. Developing Communities of Practice

3 Effective Ways To Manage Company Culture

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educon asia

On the 24th-25th Sept, we took part in Edu Con Asia 2014 as exhibitors. We were delighted and thrilled to meet many professionals from the work force development sector, teachers, vice principals, principals, deans and many other friends from the education industry. It was a great platform for everyone to network and find out a little more about each other. We were exchanging learning and development ideas, discussing the needs and concerns they face at work as well as exploring how EDLE and Illuminate may provide a solution for them. Of course, being educators and learners at heart, we attended many inspiring sessions by the various speakers and and learnt a lot from them. Today, we have Joanne to share with us her reflection after attending Edu Con Asia 2014.

joanne

One of the most important undergraduate course that I took at SMU was ‘Entrepreneurial Management’. It left a significant impression on me and taught me what makes a company great, was really down to the fundamentals – the people in the organisation and how leaders align them to the organisation’s core values and principles. It’s been 2.5 years since I’ve graduated and to date, I still see a lot of the learning points taught in ‘Entrepreneurial Management’ playing out in the world around me. At the 2nd Edu Con Asia 2014 conference, I was reminded once again of the importance of managing a company’s culture.

1. Inculcate Organisational Values through Training Programmes

John K John, the Vice President of Learning & Development (L&D) at Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), shared with us how his team embarked on a journey to transform the organisation so as to better confront future challenges.
Their approach was to centre all their Learning and Development activities around identified core competencies of Reliance Industries Ltd (Passion to Excel, Managing Ambiguity, Lifelong Learning, Detail Orientation and Ownership Mindset) and the values they wished to inculcate in all employees (Customer Value, Ownership Mindset, Respect, Integrity, One Team and Excellence).
Training programmes were centred around such qualities and stories, analogies and metaphors were included to inspire employees. One example I distinctly remember was them using a eagle to represent qualities of leadership they encouraged employees to have. An eagle was used as they possessed certain leadership traits such as:
  • Face their preys / enemies fearlessly: Often without concerns about how strong or how big their prey / enemy is
  • Have keen vision: To attack as well as to ensure their nests and territories are kept safe
  • Do not eat dead things: They do not settle for second best, and constantly look out for new opportunities

“Their approach was to centre all their Learning and Development activities around identified core competencies of Reliance Industries Ltd.”

2. Incorporate Organisational Values into Employee Performance Appraisal

Of course, training is but one aspect of building up a company culture. Three important framework needs to be in place in order to build up any company culture:
  1. Recruiting the right people to ensure that apart from just possessing the skills needed, prospective employees also have the right personality fit with the organisation’s values and principles
  2. Intensive socialisation and training processes that emphasise on core values and norms of the company
  3. Reward system that provides rapid feedback so that employees are encouraged to “do the right thing”
What impressed me was RIL’s commitment to their identified core competencies and values. They recognised the importance of tying in their Employee Performance Appraisal to ensure that the message sent out to employees is coherent. To ensure that learning is translated into action, RIL also rolled out a Performance Appraisal system where they focus their review on how their employees delivered results rather than only on the results.
Often, companies focus on the outcomes and neglect the intangible aspects of what employees did in order to obtain these results. This sends out a signal to employees that despite what was communicated about values and behaviours, what the management really cares about is just results.

“RIL also rolled out a Performance Appraisal system where they focus their review on how their employees delivered results rather than only on the results.”

3. Create a Vibrant Company that Continuously Recreates and Renew Itself

Company values and culture should not be just charades. They should be practical guidelines for employees to refer to when dealing with everyday situations. In this turbulent world where employees are often faced with unexpected situations, having a meaningful culture will implore employees to do the right thing for the benefit of the company and its stakeholders. It also creates a coherent identity amongst employees and contributes towards creating a vibrant company that continuously recreates and renews itself to adapt and stay ahead of the game.
We hope you have gained insight on managing company culture from what Joanne has shared with us. Do share with us your thoughts by leaving comments below and stay tuned for our final post on Edu Con Asia 2014 by Terence!

5 Important Lessons You Can Learn From Being An Exhibitor at Edu Con Asia 2014

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educon asia

On the 24th-25th Sept, we took part in Edu Con Asia 2014 as exhibitors. We were delighted and thrilled to meet many professionals from the work force development sector, teachers, vice principals, principals, deans and many other friends from the education industry. It was a great platform for everyone to network and find out a little more about each other. We were exchanging learning and development ideas, discussing the needs and concerns they face at work as well as exploring how EDLE and Illuminate may provide a solution for them. Of course, being educators and learners at heart, we attended many inspiring sessions by the various speakers and and learnt a lot from them. Today, we have Sam to share with us the 5 things she learnt as an Exhibitor at Edu Con 2014.

sam-s5 Things I Learnt as an Exhibitor at EduCon 2014

EduCon 2014 was a brand new experience for us as first-time exhibitors. We’ve attended several exhibitions and conferences prior to this, albeit as participants. So nothing quite prepared us for our first showing as exhibitors. To summarize my experience at EduCon 2014, I thought to share some of the lessons I picked up along the way.

 Lesson 1: You don’t have to follow the script

A key part of exhibiting of course is – the pitch. The right pitch delivered the right way will get you the right customer. True? Well, that was what I thought, so adequate preparations were made of course.

Going into the conference I had a mental script for delivering the pitch that followed this order : 1) Ask them what they do 2) Get the answers to these set of questions 3) Walk them through the demo 4) Get a sensing of their level of interest 5) Make plans to follow up.  All I had to do was deliver the pitch in this order and job done, home-free, hallelujah!

But of course the reality is that conversations never go as planned, and especially at times when you most want them to. The pitch is a conversation that was spontaneous at the conference, so sometimes it’s best to just go with the flow, keeping in mind a set of objectives. Which I found to be the following: engage with who you’re speaking with, try to understand what they do, what they want to achieve or what they’re struggling with, and make sure to communicate how you could help them.

Lesson 2: Attend as many Workshops and Conferences as you can

The workshops and conferences provide a brief but intimate glimpse into the space that people in your core market operate in. It’s a great opportunity to better acquaint yourself with the topics, ideas, discussions and questions that concern them.

These sessions might just provide you the insight to improve your product, or even give you common ideas to break the ice or that you could work into your pitch with these participants later on.  Nevertheless, it’s a great chance to network beyond the exhibiting floor.

 Lesson 3: Be Flexible

Events and exhibitions are big undertakings that don’t always go as planned. With that in mind, you have to go in with the attitude to make the best of the situation, instead of wasting time lamenting on how things should have been this way or that, you know…because we made plans around this one thing that was stated to happen around this particular time.

Things change, schedules change, and when they do – if you don’t have a plan B then think of one up fast and execute it.

“Engage with who you’re speaking with, try to understand what they do, what they want to achieve or what they’re struggling with, and make sure to communicate how you could help them.”

Lesson 4: Get Feedback

One thing I wish I could have done more was to get feedback on our product. Not the “nice” kind of feedback, but the “ugly, hurtful, soul-crushing” kind of feedback.

EduCon provided a hotbed of people that we could market-test our product with. Delegates included people that were not necessarily in our core market, so a lot of them were not buyers per se , but nonetheless they were all interested in how technology could help make learning better. So it was the perfect opportunity to acquire some hard-hitting feedback.

The problem is people are generally nice, so they won’t necessarily tell you that your product sucks to your face. So it’s a little tricky eliciting the kind of feedback you want. I do believe though that if you communicate that you’re open to hearing honest feedback in a bid to improve your product, and don’t react defensively when they do give their opinion, then people should be willing to help.

 Lesson 5: Eat as much as you can

The key note speeches were great, the discussion panels were insightful, but ultimately everyone knows where the real action is, and that is the buffet table.

As an exhibitor, grab food as often as you can, scoot on over to an open table and start making conversation with the people around it. How to break the ice? Talk about the food of course: “These Eclairs are fantabulous aren’t they?

Sooner or later the conversation will flow into finding out what the other party does, and that’s a great opportunity to invite them to visit your booth.

“If you communicate that you’re open to hearing honest feedback in a bid to improve your product, and don’t react defensively when they do give their opinion, then people should be willing to help.”

We hope you have gathered some insights from Sam regarding her experience. Do share your thoughts with us by leaving your comments below. Stay tuned for more sharing from Joanne and Terence!

Understanding Curse of Knowledge and How We Need To Learn To Change

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educon asia

On the 24th-25th Sept, we took part in Edu Con Asia 2014 as exhibitors. We were delighted and thrilled to meet many professionals from the work force development sector, teachers, vice principals, principals, deans and many other friends from the education industry. It was a great platform for everyone to network and find out a little more about each other. We were exchanging learning and development ideas, discussing the needs and concerns they face at work as well as exploring how EDLE and Illuminate may provide a solution for them. Of course, being educators and learners at heart, we attended many inspiring sessions by the various speakers and and learnt a lot from them. In our next 4 posts, Terence, Sam, Joanne and myself will share some insights and our reflections after attending Edu Con Asia 2014. But first up, here’s what I have to share!

source: principalspage.com

source: principalspage.com

“Emerging Culture of Teaching and Learning” by Alan November

I was totally blown away by Alan November’s’ keynote speech on ” Emerging Culture of Teaching and Learning”. He talked about the Curse of Knowledge and how the best teacher  may not always be the most knowledgeable person, but the first-time learner who struggles to learn something very new to him/her . The fact that the learner struggled to learn, he/she will be more empathetic towards the learning process and therefore will know better how to help the others learn. He also shared on how learners learn well  by repeating content over and over again and it is important to provide the content with the right context and cultural to the  learners in order to maximise their learning. The speech reminded me of an episode in my teaching career. When I first started teaching, I was also guilty of not being empathetic enough to students’ learning. I had the knowledge and the tools to teach my students, but sometimes it was hard for me to comprehend why they couldn’t understand the concepts even though I taught them in the simplest possible manner. It was when I started to use peer coaching in class around 6 months after I started my teaching career, that I discovered sometimes, the children’s minds can only be read by another child.

“The best teacher  may not always be the most knowledgeable person, but the first-time learner who struggles to learn something very new to him/her .”

source: ashleytan.wordpress.com

source: ashleytan.wordpress.com

“Designing Effective e-Learning and Mobile Learning for Higher Education: Learning is Change, Learning to Change”  by Dr Ashley Tan

Another session I attended was “Designing Effective e-Learning and Mobile Learning for Higher Education: Learning is Change, Learning to Change” by Dr Ashley Tan. He mentioned how there shouldn’t be a best practice for e-Learning or mobile learning because if it is already “best”, there wouldn’t be improvement. What is best for one group of learner may not be best for another. In mobile learning, a very important aspect is the social aspect. Mobile learning is not just learning using mobile devices. A key characteristic of mobile learning is the social sharing and collaboration. Hence in designing curriculum for mobile learning, a very critical factor would be to make the core of the learning social, and the learning content peripheral.

We are firm believers of mobile learning, because we know that mobile learning will help us facilitate learning. With 75% of the US workforce already being mobile, what better strategy can we make use of  to enhance learning? Going mobile is hardly optional. Education and learning needs to keep up with technology, in order to improve the effectiveness of learning. We need to constantly challenge ourselves by asking,”What’s next? What better ways can we come up with?” in order to become better.

“In designing curriculum for mobile learning, a very critical factor would be to make the core of the learning social, and the learning content peripheral.”

That’s my two cents worth on the curse of knowledge and how we need to keep up with changes in technology and redesign our learning curriculum in order to have a leverage after attending Edu Con Asia 2014. Stay tuned for more sharing from my colleagues in our next three posts!

 

 

 

Inspire Your Creative Mind Anytime, Anywhere with Clean User Interface Apps

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5 mobile apps I cannot live without
Are you someone who is very particular about user interface? Do you like to read about global happenings around the world and keep yourself informed with current affairs? Do you like to get inspiration from poets, writers and illustrators to expose yourself to more creative and aesthetically pleasant work? Earlier this month we started a blog series on “5 Mobile Apps I Cannot Live Without”. Today we have Alcan, one of our interns, to share with us 5 mobile apps he cannot live without!

alcan

It is slightly difficult to imagine with the ubiquity of smartphone and movie technology that it has only been 8 years since the first release of the first iPhone and the app store that came with it a year later. Yet, it seems like yesterday when I traded in my “space-age” Sony Ericsson phone for the iPhone 3G – and was introduced to the world of apps.

While I’m no longer the owner of the latest incarnation of the iPhone, I carry a trusty, cyanogen-mod HTC One loaded with some of my favourite apps I simply cannot live without. They include:

1. SG Buses

sgbuses

This app is arguably my most opened app – and is pretty self explanatory. You open the app and check when the next bus will arrive. While somewhat mundane, it has proven to be useful in making certain beneficial decisions. Besides the fact that it helps me to save time, knowing that the next bus comes in 15 minutes probably means I’ll walk to the previous stop(which is often empty) and grab a seat while the rest of my friends attempt to jostle through the sweat and humidity of people to board.

2. Whatsapp

WhatsApp-2.8.6I essentially use this app as an alternative to SMS.  People use the app to contact me and I use it to contact others. Not much elaboration needed.

3. Vimeo

vimeo_iconI watch videos – a lot of videos. And Vimeo is a video sharing platform that allows some of the most creative minds post their work to share with the rest of the world. As a photographer and videographer, this is one of my go-to places for inspiration. The best part? Being mobile means I can continue to be inspired anytime, anywhere – lying down, eating or while travelling.

4.  International New York Times

newyorktimesNYT is just… well… nifty. Its user interface is clean, fonts are well used and is just an overall pleasure to read. As far as I’m aware, this is one of the most well-implemented digital news apps I’ve used across all the platforms. There are also some seasonal projects that involve multimedia that really showcase how design and technology can be melded together into a dizzying spectacle. Also, its wide archive is great for searching up even the most obscure of articles – a weird hobby of mine.

 5. Tumblr

tumblrThis is a toss up between Pinterest, Flickr and Goodreads. These are all places where I find my inspiration and ideas. However, Tumblr is probably the most opened app among them because of its diversity of content and artistic merit. Not only is it free ( Yay!) , it is also the home to the blogs of many poets, writers and illustrators, all of which showcase work that is absolutely invigorating to the mind. Not to mention, the fandom that produce some of the most hilarious and awe-inspiring work all at the same time. And it’s accessible at anytime – as long as you have an internet connection.

This marks the last post of our blog series “5 Mobile Apps I Cannot Live Without”. We hope you have benefited from our sharing so far, because we certainly did (Yay to downloading more Apps) while compiling the lists!

Do leave your comments and share with us some of the apps you absolutely cannot live without! (and perhaps am dying to share with someone?)

Effectively Use Waiting Time To Gain Knowledge and Manage Finances Using These 5 Marvelous Apps

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5 mobile apps I cannot live withoutAre you someone who loves to make full use of your time and try to reduce time wasted on waiting for public transport? Or perhaps you are trying to be more mindful of your daily spending and want to keep track of your daily expenses in a most convenient way. Earlier this month, we started a blog series on “5 Mobile Apps I Cannot Live Without”. Here’s what our Content Lead Hui Xin has to say!

huixin-sSo while we’re (always) on the topic of mobile learning, I cannot imagine how I can ever live without the smartphone (and a data plan). Call it over-reliance if you wish, and of course on a philosophical level, if smart phones had ceased to exist, we wouldn’t be lamenting about how we couldn’t live without it, because we would have chosen to just work our way around navigating ourselves in lost situations, or wait for a bus without the knowledge of when it will next arrive.

But of course, with knowledge of such smart devices and having integrated them into my life, it would be such a torture going a day without it. Phantom-limb syndrome, they call it. Anyway, here’s 5 of the mobile apps I absolutely cannot live without!

1. SGBuses

sgbusesSGBuses tells you the estimated time of  arrival of the next 2 buses, and allows you to bookmark your buses and your bus stops. It is the app for people who try to squeeze the most out of their traveling and preparation time. This is the one app that has totally changed the way I plan my schedule and time because I’m now able to check for bus arrival timings and time my walk to the bus stop so I don’t have to spend too much time waiting.

2. Singapore Map

sinapore mapSingapore Map is an app developed by the street directory and is insanely useful for serving 2 functions- mapping routes and as a virtual map. Many people prefer to use google maps for their GPS, and it is pretty useful for driving routes. However, I find Singapore Map to be simpler in their interface when I am trying to map public transport routes as they give me the option of comparison between timings if I took the taxi, the bus or a combination of bus+train. It even tells me the estimated cab fare!

3. GrabTaxi

grabtaxiI take taxis pretty often during the weekends and it gets me really frustrated during the peak hours when there is no available cab in sight and the taxi hotlines are full. I would say GrabTaxi has really made taxi booking a much more pleasant experience. Firstly, the average time that I take to get a cab is significantly lower when I use this app. Secondly, this app matches me to the nearest taxi (with this app) in my vicinity and this drastically reduces waiting time. This is because taxi booking hotlines operates on a “fastest fingers system” for its cab drivers and this is not an efficient system for the customer as the cab driver may be far from the pick up location. I am also able to track the location of the cab driver and call him/her anytime to clarify details. I’ve also spoken to cab drivers about this app and they have attested to how taking away the middle man (the cab company) has helped them made processes alot smoother for them (That is a story for another day).

4. Straits Times (Monthly Subscription: S$3.21)

straits timesThere is nothing fancy about this app as it is essentially the mobile copy of The Straits Times. Its interface is designed for small screens and navigation is fairly simple- the user swipes to read the next article. It is filtered to different categories like Top Stories, Latest, Most Read and the usual news categories, which helps to sieve out popular news for the reader. Accessibility, being the largest chasm to cross in declining readership of the papers has been combated because I can now read the news during the pockets of free time that I have while on-the-go. It is also easy for me to share news articles by emailing them to people, using WhatsApp, Evernote, etc.

5. Dollarbird

dollarbirdI have been trying to keep track of my expenses in a bid to be more mindful of my spending and ploughed through many money managing apps to settle on this because of its simplicity, pretty UI and easy UX. Dollarbird’s default page is on a calender, where you simply swipe down to record an expense, keying in details and tagging the expense in categories. I would say it has been a breeze using it.

So are you inspired by Hui Xin to use the mobile apps she shared to cut down pockets of waiting time and to be more mindful of your own spending? Wait no longer and download the apps she mentioned. Stay tuned for more sharing by our team!

Gain Creative Inspiration And Keep Yourself Entertained On The Go With These 5 Amazing Apps

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5 mobile apps I cannot live without

Are you someone who used to only use your phone for communication purposes, but after you purchased your first smartphone, you find yourself doing 398641 things with your phone? Are you someone who uses your phone as your source of entertainment and gain creative inspiration for work? Earlier this month, we started a blog series on “5 Mobile Apps I cannot Live Without”. Here’s what one of our interns, Xiu Ting has to say!

xt

I use my phone quite often as it is my source of entertainment. These days, I probably check my phone every hour when just a few years back when I wasn’t using Iphone, I used my phone only when I needed to call someone. I think how important your phone is to you depends on what you use it for. My phone is very important to me because it helps me get to unfamiliar places, communicate with friends and family members, be a little more on time (because I can check bus timings) and get inspiration for my designs.

1. Google Maps

google mapAs long as I have my phone with me, I have access to the map.  I think Google Maps has a great interface and I love it that it has both the satellite and street views.

2. Whatsapp

WhatsApp-2.8.6Whatsapp to me is very  similar to the old school MSN, but on a phone. I love it that Whatsapp allows me to share my location with my friend with just a click. It makes it so much easier than having to type the address.

3. NextRide

nextrideNextRide helps me calculate the transportation time (including the waiting time) to get to where I want to go. I like this app because it provides options in terms of various bus routes and I never have to worry about going to a place with no MRT station ever since I discovered this app.

4. Instagram

instagram

I guess everybody knows what this app does. This is one app that I have to use everyday because I follow designers who  inspires me through their posts. Sometimes when I run out of ideas at work, I will look through my timeline to get inspiration.

5. Spotify

spotify

Spotify is a music app which allows me to listen to my own playlists or playlists created by others. I swear that they have almost every song! They also have an offline mode(only if you’re a premium user) where I can listen to without internet  connection. I don’t think there will be a day I can live without music. Spotify is a useful app when it comes to finding new tracks to listen to, checking out the billboard charts. It keeps me updated with the latest and popular tracks.

Well, that’s all we have from Xiu Ting. Stay tuned from more posts on “5 Mobile Apps I Cannot Live Without ” from the Epiphany Team!

5 Questions To Get Started with Online Learning for Hospitality Industry

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In our last post , we shared our thoughts on what are the determining factors for the Education industry to get started with online training and what are some of the challenges they might face.

In this final post of the 3-part blog series, we will be sharing on what are some of the considering factors for the Hospitality industry before they start investing in online learning and how it may help leverage them against competition.

source: screenmasters.org

source: screenmasters.org

What is Hospitality Industry?

The hospitality industry is fundamentally the service industry that deals mainly with tourists on vacation or locals who are out to enjoy leisure or entertainment activities. It includes people who works in hotels, transportation, cruises, theme parks and restaurants etc and the business is all about making people happy. The business models in the hospitality industry normally has a high fixed costs and variable income and is highly competitive. Hence, there is a constant need to have a leverage over the competitors in order to sustain and make profits.

Question 1: Why?

So why is it essential for businesses in the hospitality industry to get started in online learning?  Why will it help the business do better when they have online knowledge sharing platforms or online learning for the employees?

As we know, most of the jobs in the hospitality industry involves people serving the customers and as customers these days are more sophisticated, have higher expectations and definitely more tech-savy than before, it is essential to keep up to date with them. In order for employees to be able to provide customers with excellent service and to answer to their every need, they have to constantly update themselves in terms of their professional knowledge and to have the information at the tips of their fingertips. Hence online learning or knowledge sharing platforms would enable them to have the necessary information they need regardless of where they are. In an industry that is so highly competitive and providing excellent service being one of the most important aspect, there is no doubt it is essential for businesses to invest in online learning or knowledge sharing platforms.

Question 2: Who?

The second question to ask is who. Who is your intended audience? The hospitality industry includes a broad category of people from hotel concierge, chefs, event planners, drivers, housekeeping workers to managerial positions like customer service manager, each will have different learning needs. If they are service staff who are constantly on the go, perhaps the learning content needs to be more bite sized and easily accessible on mobile devices. If they are usually desk bound and work mainly on laptops and desktops, perhaps their online learninng content can be more extensive and acts more like a extensive library of performance support.

Question 3: Can you afford to do it (or not do it?)

In the hospitality industry where fixed costs are already high, one of the most important question to ask is if the cost of starting online learning or knowledge sharing platform going to generate more revenue or indirectly create an edge for the company as compared to competitors. What are the opportunity costs of not having it?

The company or organization will  need to weigh the pros and cons of having online learning or knowledge sharing platforms and predict if it will help them achieve their goals and targets more cost effectively.

Question 4: How “ready” are you for e-learning?

It’s important to find out how “ready” your staff is for online learning or knowledge sharing. If your staff is not ready, either not tech savy enough or lacks the infrastructure or devices , it will only be a white elephant which adds on to your cost. The next question to ask is if you have the technical support and infrastructure ready. Is your company’s or organization’s network ready to support your staff in their online learning?

Question 5: Do you have a technology plan or an e-learning strategy?

Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”  No initiative nor program can be successful without a well thought through plan. If you have the intention to start online learning or create a knowledge sharing platform as performance support for your employees, it is critical to revisit the company’s or organisation’s vision and mission, align it with the technology plan or e-learning strategy and to predict the desired outcomes. In the hospitality industry, perhaps one of the most essential outcome would be to be able to provide better customer service and higher customer satisfaction. 

We hope we have helped to address some of your questions or doubts in getting started with online sharing. Do leave your comments below and share your thoughts with us if you have other doubts!

 

If you missed our previous posts, here it is!

Part 1 : 5 Questions to Get Started With Online Learning For Retail Industry

Part 2:  5 Questions to Get Started With Online Learning For Education Industry

5 Questions To Get Started with Online Learning for Education Industry

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In our last post, we shared our thoughts on how it might be beneficial to the retail industry to develop online learning courses or knowledge sharing platforms in order to increase productivity for the employees, and help them cope with ever changing market demands and trends.

In this second installation of a  3-part blog series, we will be analyzing how the education industry can get started with online learning.

education

source: imrodmartin.com

 

What is Education Industry?

The education industry comprises of both the public sector like schools, colleges, institution and universities as well as the private sector where entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations which complement and supplement the public education. These include after school tutoring providers, school improvement and management services, special education services, professional development for teachers and educational content providers and suppliers.

Question 1: Why?

The first question to address before getting started with online learning is why. Why is it essential, or beneficial to spend money and resources on online learning or knowledge sharing platforms for the education industry? What problems will online learning help you address? What learning objectives will it help you meet?

As we know, the new generation of children, teenagers or learners in general are native users of technology. They grew up watching Youtube videos and playing games on their smartphones and mobile devices. In order to reach out and engage the learners, it is essential to provide them with learning content in a medium which they are most familiar with. Mobile online learning or mobile knowledge sharing platforms will definitely be one of the most effective ways to engage these learners, since they are already experts at it!

source: originlearning.com

Question 2: Who?

The second question to ask is who. Who is your intended audience? In this case, the question of who might have to be more specific like the age group of your learners, or what type of learners they are. Are your learners visual learners, audio learners or kinesthetic learners? Knowing who and what type of learners they are, will help you determine the length, content and forms on online learning.

Question 3: Can you afford to do it (or not do it?)

The next question to ask is the cost of starting online learning or knowledge sharing platform. Do you have the budget to develop and support the platform? Most government schools in Singapore have a certain amount of budget which is catered for the Information Communications Technology department. Will you be able to tap on that fund to develop your online learning? If you are an educator in the private sector, will providing the online learning or knowledge sharing platform boost your business and give you an edge over similar competitors? What are the opportunity costs of not having it?

At the end of the day, the most important target we want to achieve is for the learners to meet the learning objectives. Will developing the online learning or knowledge sharing platform help you to achieve that target more easily?

Question 4: How “ready” are you for e-learning?

It’s important to find out how “ready” your school or organization is to support an e-learning program. Can your current network support multiple users streaming videos and going into the platform at one go? Do your learners have the necessary mobile devices for the mobile learning or does your school have sufficient equipment to provide for all students? An overloaded and slow network and/or a lack of access to well-functioning equipment will definitely frustrate your learners.

Question 5: Do you have a technology plan or an e-learning strategy?

A well thought out technology plan or e-learning strategy is crucial in determining success for online learning or knowledge sharing platforms. It can help align your schools’ or organizations’ or business’ goals and vision. A good technology plan or strategy identify critical gaps in the learners’ learning, develop steps for improvement and facilitate your teaching process.

In the education industry where it is important to ensure learning takes place for all types of learners, it is crucial to identify how your learners learn best and to facilitate the learning with the most appropriate tools. Hence, with online learning and knowledge sharing platforms, you will be able to engage the different types of learners using a variety of multimedia tools.
In our last post, we will be exploring online learning in the hospitality industry. Meanwhile, do leave your comments below and share your thoughts with us!

 

If you missed our previous post, here it is!

Part 1 : 5 Questions to Get Started With Online Learning For Retail Industry