Some people can go to work every day for years and leave it all behind when they walk out the door at 5 o’clock. There have been times in my life when I’ve been insanely jealous of those people. My corporate training career has always been an ingrained part of who I am. No matter the situation, I always find myself teaching someone something – and I’m sure I’ve annoyed the heck out of many people this way. I just can’t help it.
When I decided to leave my corporate job to start a business focused around WordPress, I felt as though I was walking away from that career. I thought I was joining a completely different ballgame. Little did I know, my two worlds of WordPress and Corporate Training would turn out to be a perfect pairing.
WordPress Intranets are on the Rise
Many companies, *including Fortune 500 powerhouses such as Ford, Samsung and Nikon are using WordPress as their company Intranet, and I suspect adoption will continue to grow. For training departments, this is good news. The same features that help small businesses use WordPress to engage with their customers can help corporate training departments engage with their employees in ways that just weren’t realistic before.
Even if your company isn’t using WordPress as an Intranet solution, this open source software is free to use and can be easily installed on an internal web server for the training department. Depending on how complicated of a site you plan, it can be built by a technical-minded instructional designer, or outsourced for between a few hundred to a few thousand dollars and maintained internally. So it doesn’t include the high IT overhead that other open source solutions such as Moodle require.
The Desire for Tools to Engage Learners is On the Rise Too
Most Learning Management Systems aren’t built for engagement, they’re built for deployment and tracking. In a late 2012 survey by eLearning Guild, training professionals related social features such as discussions, knowledge bases, and communities as somewhat or very important to have in an LMS. And 53.9% of those respondents indicated that they will increase their use of social media for learning between 2013 and 2015. By contrast, the Brandon Hall Group states on its website that only 25% of the learning systems reviewed in their carefully vetted knowledge base include social features as simple as peer-rating of content.
There’s clearly a huge gap. In recent years we’ve seen social add-ons enter the mix, but by and large they’ve been awkward add-ons that don’t truly integrate with the learning experience. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to put down the LMS companies or their approach. An LMS is a complicated piece of software and trying to make a system that is everything to everyone often results in a complicated, cumbersome, and broken system. The focus on content deployment and tracking is not a bad thing.
In contrast, WordPress has evolved for the purpose of communication and engagement. And it’s very good at doing just that. I use WordPress sites to deploy training content to students in both my in-person and remote courses. I’m able to update content on the fly, send automatic update notifications to students, track content revisions, deploy video and quizzes, collect homework, send automatic email notifications, interact in a chat room, and more. I can even integrate SCORM compliant elearning content with the help of a third-party service. It may not have the robust tracking of a full-featured LMS system, but in terms of engaging and keeping students involved after training is over, it’s an excellent alternative or addition.
I’m very excited about the growth of WordPress as a training solution. If you’re planning to attend ATD International Conference and Expo 2015 in Orlando, you can drop by my session Evolving Content for Evolving Learners: Engaging in Continuous Learning When Class is Over.
Do you have questions about using WordPress to deploy training? Post them below and I’ll help you out.