If you want to capture knowledge for training content, there are a variety of ways to readily achieve this. Like many solutions, there are both simple and powerful alternatives to capture knowledge. The training content and objectives will determine whether you need a quick fix or a dedicated solution. Let’s consider a range of options to capture knowledge at your professional services firm.

In part 1 of this series, we examined the use of documents, slides and videos to capture knowledge for training content. Let’s continue reviewing options starting with presentations.

Presentations

Presentations occur when your internal experts give a live presentation to other staff to share knowledge and provide training. This often happens with the use of slides. It might be during a team meeting, at a staff conference, at a regular ‘lunch and learn’ or on a webinar. In all cases, it’s your internal expert presenting their knowledge.

This can be a great way to capture and share internal knowledge. While the presentation of knowledge is essential, that can also be done by documents, slides or videos on their own. The important part of the presentation is the interaction.

Other staff should be able to ask live questions to the internal expert to boost understanding and explain uncertainties. An excellent presenter will also engage the audience with questions and discussion, increasing engagement and participant rates.

The tricky part with presentations is the presenter. Internal experts are not always great speakers. Too often these sessions become ineffective due to a simple inability of your internal expert to present their knowledge in a way which is easy for non-experts to understand. They may not effectively organise or structure their thoughts, or they may be a disengaging presenter. It’s at this moment we hit ‘Death by PowerPoint‘.

Presentations are also a ‘moment in time’. Unless the session is recorded, the effort to create and run the presentation is not re-usable. As discussed above, slides are often hard to understand on their own. Asking your internal experts to repeatedly present their slides is inefficient.

Recorded presentations or webinars are an option, but it is rare for a professional to actively engage with a long recording. Even professional TV shows struggle to engage audiences for more than 30-45 minutes, and that’s with TV-level budgets and staffing! Live presentations are amazing, but recorded presentations are often less effective.

Presentations can involve much work for a small (or one time) reward.

Social media platform

Internal social media platforms allow staff to share and exchange knowledge in a ‘close to real-time’ or ‘just in time’ fashion. Even small firms using instant messaging platforms can enable staff to quickly seek out expertise from within the firm when needed.

The beauty of social learning is that it connects the learner directly with the expert. The learner is also seeking information when they need it – when they are actively engaged in finding new skills or a new solution. They can often immediately apply this knowledge too. It creates highly motivated learners.

It can, however, create a burden for your internal experts. They can be asked for the same information repeatedly from multiple staff. Or they can face constant interruptions for small pieces of knowledge.

Knowledge sharing via social learning is also ‘shallow’. It is typically short, addresses very specific questions, rather than addressing a ‘deep’ analysis of the topic. Not all knowledge can be acquired ‘at the moment it is needed’ either. Sales skills, for example, need to be learnt in advance – you can’t stop a client meeting to quickly Tweet questions to your internal experts!

Social learning isn’t a sole solution to capture knowledge, but it is a great supplement to other formats of training content driven by internal knowledge.

eLearning modules

eLearning (online learning) is an exceptionally suitable way to capture and share internal knowledge. As we have discussed earlier, eLearning is an extremely suitable delivery method for professionals. It is repeatable, available 24/7 in any location, and easy to monitor.

Putting internal knowledge into eLearning format also improves the way that knowledge is captured. It provides a better structure to organise the thoughts of your experts than documents or slides. It can easily encompass materials in slide format, as well as videos, but combine them with more interactive elements.

Quizzes, social learning, polls, reflection activities and assessments are easy to add to eLearning to boost the transfer of knowledge and measure its impact. Well, perhaps easy if you are familiar with eLearning authoring tools.

Therein lies the main challenge with eLearning – it’s only easy to create for experts in eLearning. eLearning authoring tools (like Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate) are powerful pieces of software with steep learning curves. In the hands of an expert designer, they can result in terrific training. The challenge is that your internal experts are probably not also experts in eLearning design.

To make the most of eLearning as an internal knowledge tool, you are going to need the services of an expert. You really only have two options here.

  1. Engage an external expert. There are many eLearning freelancers and design firms you can hire to develop eLearning for you. They can work with your internal experts to capture their knowledge and utilise any existing materials. Your internal experts typically need to devote a few hours to organise their thoughts, then a few hours of interviews and then a few hours reviewing draft modules for accuracy.
  2. Hire a dedicated training manager. Alternatively, you could hire a dedicated training manager to develop your learning content. Be certain, however, that your training manager is proficient in eLearning instructional design techniques. Like any role, not all training managers are skilled at every aspect of their industry – some are specialists in facilitation, others in training management, while some are expert instructional designers.

As you can probably tell, developing eLearning is expensive. External experts may spend 20-40 hours developing a 1 hour eLearning module. There will then be additional costs for templates, video production and graphic design. Spending $5,000 to $10,000 per eLearning module is not unusual.

Also, you will need a learning management system to host and distribute your eLearning modules. eLearning modules cannot be accessed on their own like a PDF document. They require a hosting platform to manage users and track completion.

A final, but important, hurdle for eLearning modules are changes and updates. eLearning modules can ONLY be edited in the original software which developed them. This means even simple things like spelling errors require the original software (and expert who created the module) to edit the change, export the module and upload it back to your learning management system.

This result can be superior training – engaging, relevant and measurable. For firms with the budget, eLearning is a terrific way to capture internal knowledge.

Knowledge sharing platform

A final option to capture knowledge for training purposes is a knowledge sharing platform. These platforms are designed specifically for this purpose! They attempt to take the best parts of other options while eliminating their negatives.

Knowledge sharing platforms (not to be confused with learning management systems or learning experience platforms, which are focused on administering professionally created eLearning) are designed for anyone to use. Any expert in your business should be able to login to the platform and use the available tools to capture knowledge…and have that transformed into online learning.

The platform provides your experts with a very low learning curve with intuitive tools similar to those in PowerPoint or Word. In addition, experts receive guidance, tips and feedback to help them structure their thoughts and capture their ideas. The entire process should really take no longer than developing the same content in slides or documents.

The advantages are many.

  • Knowledge sharing platforms allow your experts to easily add interactive elements like ‘question and answer’ moments, surveys and polls including showing aggregated data from your firm, and quizzes to test understanding.
  • Knowledge sharing platforms allow your expert to focus on what they know best – their expertise. The platform then automatically transforms that content into an interactive online experience for your staff – 24/7 in any location. The platform provides all the navigation, formatting, notifications and enrolments. It’s like a ‘training manager in a box’.
  • Knowledge sharing platforms allow your staff to share ideas within each topic, contribute new expertise and compare thoughts. It gives you many of the same benefits of social media platforms, but with a deeper, richer experience.
  • Unlike learning management systems which only control users (and then rely on imported content), knowledge sharing platforms control both users and content. As a result, they can provide a wealth of data – far beyond any other form of training. This allows your firm to measure success and demonstrate RoI very easily.

Knowledge sharing platforms also allow easy and instant updates to your content – spelling errors can be corrected in seconds, while new knowledge (changes in processes, new documents) can be added into existing topics without any other software requirements.

There remains a time commitment from your experts to capture their thoughts – mind-reading platforms do not yet exist! However, that time commitment exists for all internal knowledge sharing options. The key is to minimise the time and maximise the output. That’s where a dedicated knowledge sharing platform excels.

If you combine a knowledge sharing platform to cover the majority of your internal knowledge (including hosting videos), then you can efficiently utilise documents to manage the remaining simple forms of training and knowledge. The combination is a powerful, low cost, high impact solution.