Known as Absorb SmartLab and produced by the Canada-based Blatant Media Corporation – which also produces the Absorb Learning Management System (LMS) – this new approach to managing and monitoring learning activities aims to encourage people to learn because they want to, not because they have to. It is a hosted application, available for learners to access globally, which incorporates social media in addition to course delivery, contests, FAQs, surveys and more.
Like other Blatant products, SmartLab is distributed in the UK and the rest of Europe by Omniplex. Its managing director Matthew Lloyd, commented: “While the traditional LMS is designed for dealing with regulatory, compliance-based, mandatory training, SmartLab has been designed to engage with and motivate audiences who have a choice about whether or not to learn.
“There are lots of learning materials currently available which can help learners to be more knowledgeable, confident and, thus, more effective and efficient in their jobs,” he explained. “However, people don’t have the time to take all the training that’s on offer and so must choose what training to take.
“This is an ‘elective audience’, rather than the more conventional ‘mandated audience’ most LMSs are designed to service.
“This places a new onus on both the LMS and learning content. Learning content must be fun and actively encourage the learners to choose to spend their time learning,” Lloyd added.
“Absorb SmartLab has been designed for just such an elective audience. With competitions, scrolling latest-news panels, videos on the login page and much more, all in a highly configurable environment, it supports brand projection at a much deeper level than the typical ‘colour scheme and a logo’ branding of many legacy LMSs.
“The history of the LMS has seen a number of extensions from its traditional role - HR functionality and social functionality being, perhaps, the two main forays from its core capabilities. But both of these developments were essentially defensive moves by the LMS vendors to counter perceived threats to their territory.
“Neither development added much to the core learning experience,” he said. “The emergence of systems that address elective audiences – as with SmartLab - is a real innovation in the LMS industry.”
Everything in SmartLab is configured through the Absorb LMS - including full HTML authoring of news stories and additional content. Using SmartLab, learners earn points by completing product knowledge modules - and these points are accumulated to qualify learners for sweepstakes, contests and other promotional incentives.
Absorb LMS’s reporting and organisational capabilities are also available to the SmartLab administrator. This includes providing the automation for enrollment, catalogue availability, certificate management and the various reports expected of an LMS.
“Up to now, most LMSs have looked like standard enterprise software applications,” commented Omniplex’s Stephen Miller. “When learners log in, they see their list of learning activities, take a course module or two and then reward themselves with a trip to where they actually want to spend their time online: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and so on.
“On the other hand, SmartLab provides a revolutionary approach to learning and development by creating an experience that resembles the sites people enjoy. The chances are that SmartLab learners won’t even be aware that they’re accessing information in an enterprise learning platform.
“Although your learners may be oblivious to the fact that they’re spending time within an LMS, your administrators will be able to track the improvements in the skills, performance, and knowledge of your workforce.”
Among the early adopters of this revolutionary approach to learning management is part of one of the world’s leading management consulting firms.
SmartLab contains the following features:
• It is a cross-culture, smart global learning system;
• Customisation features bring users’ brand experience to life;
• Its powerful social media connectivity extends the brand culture;
• Advanced learning ergonomics make it human, intuitive, highly efficient;
• Proprietary tools incentivise and measure training ROI;
• It is multi-platform (including iPad) with no IT support or software to buy;
• It offers flexibility to fit with users’ operating needs;
• Multi-lingual with on-demand translation included.
Omniplex (omniplex.co.uk) is a leading provider of e-learning and related tools and services for:
• informal learning (ad hoc, peer-to-peer, social learning);
• formal learning (authoring solutions, learning delivery and tracking, and learning reinforcement); and
• training, support, content development and integration services.
Based in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, in the UK, and in Montreal, Canada, Omniplex supports clients across Europe and North America.