SuccessFactors has introduced what I consider to be a slick new feature in the recent b1408 release for Learning. The new QuickGuides in the LMS provide organizations with another way to make their LMS more content-rich, this time allowing the end user population to participate in authoring that content if desired. QuickGuides are meant to be step-by-step instructional materials, quick (as the name suggests) and to the point. In this blog I highlight the functionality so you know what their purpose is with this latest release and how you may utilize them going forward in your LMS.
One of the key things to understand about QuickGuides is they do not have to be just an administrator function. You can allow end users in your organization the ability to create QuickGuides if you wish. A new workflow has been introduced (Author QuickGuides) which will allow users to create/publish QuickGuides to catalogs that are assigned to the user and accept user published content. On the surface this may seem like a foreign concept to learning admins, allowing end users in the organization to publish content of any kind to catalogs in the LMS. Keep in mind however the ‘social’ aspect to learning that is currently promoted through the integration with Jam. In my opinion this QuickGuide functionality is an extension of the social-side of learning that Jam promotes, allowing for further collaboration in the LMS directly for the user community to champion their learning needs. You do not have to give out the ability to author QuickGuides to everyone in your organization by any means, but do not just view this as an administrator only function as you’ll be missing a big part of the benefit of the solution.
Once you have permissioned QuickGuides for users appropriately, the users will see a link from their My Learning page in the Links tile for My QuickGuides (see screen shot below). Clicking this link will take a user into the area of the LMS where they can create/manage their own QuickGuides.
The QuickGuide management page keeps it simple. Previously I mentioned QuickGuides are step-by-step instructional materials that are meant to be concise and easy to follow. The management page for creating a new QuickGuide (see screen shot below) allows you to create a Cover Page and separate pages for each step in your instructional process (up to 30 total). Each step can have instructional text (but only up to 180 characters of total text per step; 50 characters for the title) and an image.
Users can build their QuickGuides out with the content desired quickly and efficiently. The content within QuickGuides should be just as much about the ‘visual’ aspect as they are about the text you add to each step. Remember there is only a maximum of 180 characters of text allowed per step, so you cannot write a novel when creating the content for your guides. It is important to choose images that illustrate each step with the text supporting what the image is conveying. Together your image and text in your QuickGuides should be clear to an end user in instructing them on the process in question.
After creating a QuickGuide, a user can Publish the QuickGuide to catalogs assigned to the user and configured to accept user content. The user cannot select which catalog to publish to though. Keep in mind the concept of catalogs in SuccessFactors Learning is not transparent to the end user. End users are able to search and filter learning content through the catalog search, however, that content they can see may come from a combination of multiple Catalogs that are assigned to them in the LMS. When a user publishes a QuickGuide, it will be published too every catalog they are assigned to that is setup to allow user authored content. A new field has been introduced on Catalog records for this designation (see screen shot below).
After publishing a QuickGuide, other users that have access to the catalog(s) that the QuickGuide was published to can find the guides when searching for content in the LMS. A new option in the Category filter in the Catalog Search allows users to filter their results for QuickGuides only. QuickGuides cannot be added to a user’s learning plan. A user must access them through the catalog search only.
Users can access any QuickGuides they find from the catalog search and view the content in full. The guides will be displayed to the user in similar fashion as shown before when creating a QuickGuide. The Cover Page/Steps are listed on the left-hand side of the screen with the selected content on the right-hand side.
Important to note, users who have access to create QuickGuides can do so on their PC within the LMS as demonstrated above and also within the iPhone app (where’s the love for Android?). The steps to enable QuickGuides within the LMS are summarized below:
- Enable QuickGuides from BizX Mobile Admin
- Assign the new Author QuickGuide worfklow to the appropriate user/user roles
- Specify new catalog field for User Generated Content to Yes for those catalogs that can have QuickGuides published to them
While the QuickGuide functionality now available in SuccessFactors Learning is a great new tool for organizations to further allow collaborative type content generation from users, I do hope to see some further enhancements to the functionality down the line, including:
- Selective Publishing – While the catalog structure utilized in the LMS is not visible to the end user, meaning they are not aware of the collective group of catalogs that may be assigned to them, I don’t know if I’m a fan of the fact that when a user publishes a QuickGuide it is published in EVERY catalog they are assigned to that is flagged to accept user authored content. You could have cases where a user only wants to publish a QuickGuide to a select group/catalog and not the multiple catalogs that are related to them and accept user content. Therefore I would be careful/selective with which catalogs you may flag as accepting user published content.
- Ability to Add QuickGuide to Learning Plan – Currently users can only view QuickGuides by searching for them within the catalog and drilling down into them in this manner. This isn’t efficient if a user wants to reference a QuickGuide frequently over time. While QuickGuides are not like Items/Curricula, it would still be nice if they could be added to a user’s learning plan to faciliate quicker repetitive access.
- PDF QuickGuides – Another wish list would be the ability to download a QuickGuide to a static document (PDF?) for offline viewing. Due to the simplistic nature of the QuickGuides, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem from a design perspective. This could allow users to take their favorite QuickGuides on the go outside of the LMS as needed.
- Use with Assignment Profiles – And finally, in my opinion I could see having the ability to assign QuickGuides out to parts of the user population via Assignment Profiles be of benefit too. The main hurdle here goes back to my 2nd bullet point above where currently QuickGuides cannot be added to a user’s learning plan. However, if possible, I do see a value in assigning QuickGuides to users in the way that Recommended Items can be done so currently via Assignment Profiles. This could allow training admins to market popular QuickGuides to users in an automatic fashion as opposed to just relying on them to find the guides when searching the catalog.
Overall the concept of the new QuickGuides in SuccessFactors Learning is an exciting step forward toward more collaborative learning options in the LMS. Organizations will again have to expand how they view learning within their organizations. For organizations who embrace this collaborative approach to learning, this is another great tool to have within the LMS at your disposal.