Due to COVID-19, the introduction of teleworking in many companies has rapidly increased and the concept of “the workplace” has changed dramatically. During these circumstances, there’s also been a huge impact on the places where training and education is provided for employees, and there’s a growing need to review what form those places should take. For many companies in 2020, the conducting of group training with new employees has been forced to be altered in some way, whether that’s been shortening, postponing or cancelling classes, with the objective being to avoid close contact. However, the human resource development is indispensable for companies to grow. What’s currently gaining attention is “blended learning”, which combines live training and on-demand streaming and uses web meeting systems and e-learning. Here we’ll introduce Generalist/LM, a solution that achieves easier and more effective employee training and education in the New Normal.

The ideal form of group training changed due to COVID-19

As a part of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many companies are accelerating the introduction of teleworking. Even now after the state of emergency has been lifted, teleworking is becoming an established new way of working in the New Normal. At the same time, large changes are also occurring in the way we conduct training and education for employees.

Previously, the majority of employee training involved lecture-based group training conducted with the participants gathered together in the same location.  Although, with COVID-19 and the push to avoid close contact, it’s become difficult to hold events where people assemble together. However, human resource development is indispensable if companies are to continue stable growth and development. Under these circumstances, the usage of e-learning, where participants receive lessons remotely, has come to be seen as an alternative to group training.

Therefore, Toshiba Digital Solutions offered their e-learning cloud service Generalist/LW free of charge to middle-scale and small-to-medium sized companies in the roughly four months between March and the end of June this year as an emergency support measure to those companies trying to continue training remotely during the pandemic. Furthermore, during this free period we received a large response of over 120 applicants after releasing a series of contents targeted to new employees and younger employees. These included such courses on “Basic Skills for Working Adults”, “Fundamentals of Introducing Teleworking” and “Teleworking-related Lectures”. Due to this response and user feedback, as a second phase, between August and October we offered free of charge content targeted towards prospective employees, including “Basic Skills for Working Adults” and lessons on how to use Microsoft Office. In this way, we have been actively supporting companies that have stepped up efforts toward teleworking.

Generalist/LW has no initial fees, a payment plan can be selected based on frequency of use, and payment can be processed online. Due to this, there are an increasing number of clients using this opportunity to fully incorporate it.

It is not limited to companies with employees that they are in trouble because of the hardship to open group training sessions. The reduction in group training has led to a sharp decrease in work for instructors who conduct courses. Wishing to help these instructors, we turned our attention towards web meeting systems. As teleworking has become increasingly the norm, the usage of web meeting systems, such as Microsoft Teams (below “Teams”) and Zoom, has quickly spread among companies. By using these systems, instructors are also able to conduct classes remotely and a sense of unity distinctive to live training can arise among participants.

Previously, blended learning meant “group training combined with e-learning” where learners would use e-learning to study more effectively by boosting their knowledge before a group education session and afterwards in order to revise. However, in the new type of blended learning, which has come out of the New Normal era where teleworking has infiltrated into daily life, the mainstream has become “online training combined with e-learning”, where group training is digitalized.

Five elements that meet the needs of new LMS and that Generalist/LM make possible

This is a detailed explanation of LMS*, a system that realizes the new type of blended learning. LMS is a system that manages e-learning study though handling such things as participants’ grades and progress and the assigning of teaching materials.

*LMS: Learning Management System

However, LMSs have so far been frequently used for pre-learning in anticipation of group training and for compliance training, and so they’re better known as e-learning systems rather than as study management systems. Our Generalist/LM is an e-learning system with LMS functions that was created for usage by around 100,000 employees of Toshiba Group. It’s used by a total of 7,400 companies, mainly companies with over 1,000 employees, and has continuously held the largest* share of the e-learning domestic market since 2009.

* Source: “E-Learning & Visual Media Education Business 2018”, Yano ICT

Generalist/LM realizes more efficient and effective education and acts as a communication tool that meets today’s LMS needs. Specifically, it has enhanced functionality that fulfills five elements that correspond to the new era: “mobile device use”, “effective time use”, “energizing communication”, “live streaming and video use” and “content distribution and sharing”.

“Mobile device use” brings the huge merit of being able to easily attend classes and create content via a tablet or smartphone. It’s also possible to control intellectual property (IP) per piece of content, for example by making classes that involve company secrets not accessible on mobile devices. In regard to “effective time use”, we have video content that requires only around 3 minutes of study time. Microlearning is also supported, allowing learners to acquire knowledge more efficiently through using pockets of time, such as while on the move, waiting or taking a break. We also provide a way to analyze course attendance history to better understand the study habits of learners.

As well as this, in order to handle the features of “energizing communication” and “live streaming and video use”, we have improved our social learning system. Through cooperation with web meeting systems such as Teams and Zoom, question and answer sessions and information sharing are available similar to in-person group training, since it is able to chat with instructors and other participants while taking a lecture. Plus, it’s possible to record a lecture and distribute the recording to those absent from lecture or use it as e-learning content.

Generalist/LM is further linking with Teams. By using Generalist/LM for managing training and Teams for contacting with learners via the option to link with Office365, training managers can more easily create training, receive applications from participants, distribute and retrieve back surveys, and even aggregate and analyze them. Also, if participants apply to classes through Teams, their class schedule is automatically registered in Outlook, making for easier participation on the day, and because both class attendance and survey answering can be done on Teams, participants get a more comfortable class environment. By further automating class management in this way, Generalist/LM becomes an incredibly powerful training tool for users who wish to dive into teleworking and who are concerned about any issues with communication (Fig. 1).

Furthermore, we’re pursuing greater convenience for users by partnering with video streaming services to allow streaming and simple live streaming to be performed easier.

Lastly, for “content distribution and sharing”, we have the “Content Community Cloud” (C3) that allows content to be shared over the cloud. The content shared through C3 includes not only that made by content vendors but also content made by training instructors. Users of Generalist/LM can experience the variety of content contained within C3.

As well as this, Generalist/LM comes with optional functions that support the new blended learning of “online training combined with e-learning”, further improving the convenience of users.  This includes not only secure linking with personnel information (such as talent management systems), but also tools that allow easy content creation (text to voice data conversion, digital manual creation, VR* content creation using photos and videos shot by 360-degree cameras, etc).

*VR: Virtual Reality

Aiming to be a platformer of training and education content that everyone can use

Along with further enriching the LMS functions mentioned here, we are also working on expanding such data services as content producing services and selling services. Our goal is   to build a platform that all Generalist/LM users can mutually use and that contains a variety of training and education content. At the core of this system is the aforementioned “Content Community Cloud” (C3). In order to gather first-grade content within C3 and be able to always provide the latest content, we are actively developing relations with content vendors as well as training instructors (Fig. 2).

Toshiba Digital Solutions is deploying a wide range of solutions.  Not only e-learning, blended learning and course attendance history management through “Generalist/LM”, but also with the human resource management solution “Generalist”, which allows total support of human resource development indispensable to a company’s growth, we are providing management of qualifications and work experience, visualization of employees’ skills through skill maps, as well as visualization of employee work styles and HR and payroll systems. We encourage companies facing issues with human resource development to reach out and contact us.

  • The corporate names, organization names, job titles and other names and titles appearing in this article are those as of December 2020.

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