Why eLearning in the finance industry is very important

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Banking. It’s what makes our modern economy tick (and, perhaps, tock), and a big enabler of the business and innovation progress we’ve had in the 21st century.

It’s, to paraphrase the proverb, a lucrative job, but somebody’s got to do it.

It’s also a demanding job, one where books of regional, national, and international rules and regulations can be stacked as high as the Empire State Building. Add to the mix operational guidelines and procedures internal to your financial organization, and what you have is informational overload.

In a sector where information is leverage and mistakes can cost billions (and trivially DO cost millions), continuous training is par for the course, and an eLearning solution is a no brainer for multiple reasons we’ll delve into below.

The cost factor

One factor in favor of eLearning in most industries is cost, namely that an eLearning solution costs less to deploy and run compared to traditional learning. This is probably not as much a concern in the financial sector, as the money involved for both options are small peanuts related to the average budget of a large financial institution.

So, while the reduced costs of eLearning is a nice to have, it’s not a deciding factor in this case. What does matter in finances is the overall efficiency and return of investment of the training, and that’s something were eLearning also helps a lot.

In the fast-paced world of finance, where working long hours is the norm, classroom based education, with its rigid schedules and its commuting requirements, is disruptive.

eLearning allows employees to educate themselves at their own pace, between customer and board meetings, when work winds down, or when NYSE is closed for the night. Even commuting time, on a plane or train, can be used for training, with an eLearning platform like eFrontPro which can work both with and without an internet connection.

With eLearning your employees waste less time going to and out of classrooms and spend more time learning and being productive, which in turn translates to huge savings and less disruptions to the operation of your organization.

Privacy and control

Financial organizations have all kind of internal procedures and training material to use, and not all of it should ever be outside of the company.

With internet based eLearning you can deploy your courses in a tightly controlled manner, providing fine-grained access only to the right employees and securing the whole thing behind your company’s firewall or VPN.

And for financial organizations operating in multiple cities, countries, offices and branches, an LMS (which is required for eLearning) allows you to deliver training to all your locations from a single deployment, that your IT department can easily manage, monitor and secure.

Staying up to date

The financial industry is not a static environment. In fact it’s perhaps the most dynamic sector of the so called knowledge based economy, with each day and week bringing unique challenges and changes (especially in areas such as compliance training).

When it comes to training, this means that a lot of the learning material has to change frequently to adapt to new developments.

This is another area were eLearning beats classroom based classes that need printed textbooks, specialized instructors and a predefined lesson schedule.

Central, web based, deployment makes updating eLearning material quick and painless, and compatibility with third party and external sources means that all kinds of pre-packages and already available content can be incorporated to your eLearning courses in a heartbeat.

Employee Onboarding

Employee orientation or onboarding, the task of introducing new hires to their working environment and giving them the basic information they need to start being productive, is another great fit for eLearning and eFrontPro.

This includes your organization’s operating procedures, policies, restrictions, compliance regulations and guidelines, as well as the ever more important education in professional ethics, and sexual and racial discrimination issues.

Training Insight

The last major benefit of eLearning we’ll cover in this post is that it gives managers and decision makers quick and comprehensive insight over the status and progress of your organization’s training programs.

Instead of delivering seminars to your employees and hoping for the best, or waiting for some instructor to grade and deliver employee progress reports at the end of the learning period, with eLearning you get automated and fast insights on how your employees are doing and how well your training material has been absorbed.

eFrontPro, for example, includes advanced reporting capabilities that enable supervisors and management to keep track of courses, groups of learners and even the learning progress of specific employees, across all of your organization’s departments and branches.

Conclusion

For a fast-paced, knowledge-driven industry like finance, where training is a matter of survival, adopting eLearning is a no-brainer.

Take eFrontPro for a free test drive, and talk to our representatives about how you can leverage eLearning to take employee training in your bank, financial institution or related organization to the next level.

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Using Curriculums in eFrontPro 4.1

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eFrontPro had a new major update recently, with version 4.1.0 bringing a load of workflow updates, user requested features, bug fixes and enhancements. Among them is the new Curriculums feature which (as the title subtly suggests) will be the focus of this blog post.

Curriculums in eFrontPro are an organizing unit for your e-learning content, in addition to the already existing Branches, Groups, Audiences, Skills, etc.

Like their namesake in physical educational institutions, Curriculums serve as a way to organize your courses into a single package (e.g. a mathematics curriculum would consist of courses such as algebra, trigonometry, calculus etc. Similarly, a business curriculum would consist of business, economics and finance related courses).

Organization in eFrontPro however doesn’t stop in being merely a conceptual way of categorizing your courses and related information. It’s also the core mechanism behind eFrontPro’s automated notifications, mass actions, reporting and filtering facilities.

This means that you can use eFrontPro’s organizational grouping units (Branches, Audiences, Groups, Categories and the like, including curriculums as of the latest update) to send automated notifications related to a grouping, perform mass actions affecting all its members at once, view reports aggregated for the grouping and filter information based on it.

In addition, you can also buy and sell complete curriculums (sets of related courses) and award certificates upon completion of a curriculum.

Curriculum creation and management is handled from the “Curriculums” section of the admin user interface. From there you can see a list of all the available curricula and hit the “Add curriculum” button to, err, add a new curriculum.

The basic information required to add a new curriculum is its name and the category it belongs to (e.g. Mathematics, Business, etc.). You can also add an optional short description.

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Clicking on the “Advanced” link shows a few more options, like a short code you can use to identify your curriculum (e.g. MATH-01), the branch(es) it belongs to and whether it’s active or if it should be displayed on the Catalog.

Finally, you can set a base price for selling the curriculum, and define a Certificate that will be awarded when a user completes the curriculum.

After you have created your curriculum you can assign courses and users to it. If you have created groups for your users (as you should) you can also enroll all users belonging to a group to a curriculum with the “enroll members to curriculums” mass action.

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As we already mentioned, curriculum related events (e.g. a user completing a curriculum) can also be used to trigger notifications. You’ll find the relevant options in the Events list when creating a new Notification.

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If you’re using eFrontPro to sell e-learning courses then curriculums provide a handy way to group together related courses to sell as a bundle. Users can buy one or more curriculums, effectively enrolling and buying all the separate courses that the curriculum consists of.

And as with the other groupings in the platform, the Reports functionality in eFrontPro allows you to have insight into all curriculum related statistics and events.

You’ll find those reports in the Curriculums tab of the Reports page, where you can select the curriculum you’re interested in (e.g. Mathematics, First Semester, etc) and even drill further down with additional filters for branches, groups, audiences etc. to see just the information you’re interested in.

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And this completes our course on eFrontPro’s Curriculums functionality. You wont be awarded any certificates for completing this blog post, but you’ll nevertheless be ready to take advantage of this new powerful organizational feature in your e-learning deployment!

Until next week, keep warm and happy eFront-ing…

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eFrontPro marches forward with 4.1

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We decided to build eFrontPro from scratch in order to replace our eFront codebase that was getting long in the tooth and to be a great foundation to build upon for the next decade.

It wasn’t an easy task: we had to rewrite legacy code, to re-think the architecture and UI, to make it more modular and speedy, and to learn and adapt new technologies. It also involved a lot of hair-pulling and head-scratching, in order to come up with the best solutions to the challenges we faced.

Yep, it wasn’t easy. But, as hard work is known to do, it paid off. You’ve seen it yourself, in the faster pace that major eFrontPro updates arrive, with the first one landing just a month after our first release. And then another.

Well, it’s time to introduce our freshly baked latest update, eFrontPro 4.1.0, and the goodies it brings to the table.

Curriculums

You know Branches, Groups, Audiences, and the rest of eFrontPro’s logical groupings, they are here to help you organize your e-learning deployment in the way you like, and avoid repetitive manual tasks.

eFrontPro 4.1 introduces “Curriculums”, a way to bundle several courses together to handle as a single package. You can offer a whole curriculum for sale (like selling courses), assign a curriculum to a user or a group, see aggregates reports for the whole curriculum and award certificates upon a curriculum’s completion.

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Certificates

The new version builds upon the Certificate features of the previous one, adding several significant new features. Besides being able to award certificates based on curriculums (see above), you now also have the option to have self-expiring certificates that can be re-assigned automatically to the students upon (or even before) expiration. Last, but not least, we’ve also added a new reporting page for certification related statistics.

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Automatic content conversions

To make online content creation faster and less tedious, we’ve automated content conversion by integrating EncodeMagic to eFrontPro. You can now upload all kinds of videos, audio files, presentations, etc, knowing that they will be automatically converted to formats that your users can open, with the optimal encoding and delivery for all web-enabled devices (laptops, tablets, phones etc).

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Tests

This version allows you to automatically create variations of your tests with the new “Randomized” question type, that can select multiple random questions from a question pool. You can select how many questions out of the pool you want to use in each test.

We’ve also added question timers, for time sensitive tests, as well as the option to re-use questions across lessons.

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Payments

You asked for it, you’ve got it: version 4.1 adds the (not so long) awaited support for Stripe payments.

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SEO URLs

If you’re running your eFrontPro service publicly, you’ll love this one: all eFrontPro URLS are now SEO friendly, for better Google placements and more traffic coming your way.

Login with Facebook

Third party authentication is all the rage these days, especially from the big-3 providers (Facebook, Google, Twitter). Well, you can now let your users register and login with their Facebook account.

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Reports

Reports weren’t a major focus for this update, but we still managed to squeeze in a number of reporting improvements and a few new report types.

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More documentation

Last, but not least, we revamped our eFrontPro documentation, nearly tripling it in size. Besides entries for the new features in this update, you’ll also find several mini how-tos guiding you through common tasks, answers to frequently asked questions, technical guides for installing, securing and taking care of your eFrontPro deployment.

You can check the ongoing eFrontPro documentation here.

Oh, and that’s not all. There’s also a tutorial on creating your own themes, for the HTML/CSS savvy types, and an API guide integrating it with your other systems and services.

Finally, the documentation includes an extended Plugin Guide, you may use to extend eFrontPro to fit your needs.

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