On this episode of Map Talk, host Allison Williams sits down with Education Manager Erica Nielsen, to discuss the Education Program here at Mapcom. They discuss new educational opportunities for M4 learners on Litmos, best practices for creating a certification curriculum for your team, and how to achieve that stunning M4 Double Master green jacket.
You can listen or read a copy of the transcript below!
Allison Williams: Thank you so much for coming on and talking with me today! Can you go ahead and introduce yourself and what your current role is here at Mapcom?
Erica Nielsen: Thank you so much for having me! I’m excited to be on a podcast, my first-ever podcast! For those of you that don’t know, my name is Erica and I am the Education Manager here at Mapcom Systems. I’ve been with Mapcom close to three years and I get the joy of working with all of our clients and also every person inside of Mapcom – which is my favorite part of my job because I get to be the connection between our clients and also our Trainers, our Project Managers, Development, Sales, everything. I am mainly here to help provide the top level of learning and curriculum for our clients and also make sure that documentation is up to the standards that everybody needs. So, I get to work with Zendesk and Litmos as well.
AW: Before you started at Mapcom, you had an interesting career switch. You were not originally working in the telecom space, so can you talk a little bit about what you were doing before you came to Mapcom?
EN: That’s a great point. I started out working as an elementary school teacher. I have the experience of education but obviously in a different realm and with a lot shorter people. I always like to say now I work with taller students, which is great and you all are wanting to learn more than the children are so [that is] definitely a good switch. I’ve enjoyed working in the Telecom industry and getting to help clients, especially those in our rural areas.
AW: I know you are just as much of a travel bug as I am and now that we are currently restricted and can’t travel as much, do you have a place that is at the top of your travel list once we are able to expand outside of our homes?
EN: Well, my whole family loves to travel. So that’s always something that we enjoy doing together and we’ve discussed that we want to try and explore more of the US and see more of the Midwest. Our family has a farm out in South Dakota that we really want to see, and then I also have some places out west that I want to go to. But abroad it would definitely be the UK. I’m Irish and we just did the Ancestry DNA so I want to go and visit more of the areas out there.
AW: We are [currently] in the process of developing Mapcom Academy for our Training Program. Can you speak a little bit about what that’s going to look like for our client and how we’re unveiling that over the next few months?
EN: Yes, I’m very excited about this new project! It has been in the works for a few months now and it is still in the research and development phase, but we are currently creating a library of training videos that will walk you through processes inside of M4. The first set of videos we are creating focus on M4 Foundation and some M4 Administrator functionality. We thought that this would be a great way to introduce online learning [which is] more important now than ever before for our clients. As well, we want to get their feedback. In the coming months, we will do a Beta release of Mapcom Academy to gather feedback from clients to find out where they would like to see more videos or any other additions they would like to see in the library.
For anyone listening, please reach out and let me know what workflows you would like us to provide or what modules you would really like to see included in that Training Library.
AW: Mapcom Academy will be housed on our Learning Management System (LMS), Litmos. So, can you speak about what other opportunities Litmos gives to its users?
EN: Litmos is a multi-faceted tool that allows users to watch videos, take certification quizzes, and download Training Manuals to reference M4 functionality. This is really important as well when you are self-training. If you have just come on to a new team or maybe you’re in a different role with your company and you need to learn about M4, this allows you that opportunity to teach yourself and then practice those skills on the Certification tests. Litmos also gives team leaders and managers the ability to assign courses and track the status of their team members’ progress. All around Litmos can give companies another avenue for professional development and online learning, which as I said before, has become even more important recently.
AW: We’ve had Litmos here at Mapcom for just about a year. In your role, have you seen Litmos used by our clients in any unique or interesting ways? [How are they] taking control of their education on their own terms?
EN: We have seen a few clients really personalize Litmos to their own learning needs [while] other clients have just enjoyed what we have put on there. One client in particular is Direct Communications in Rockland, Idaho. I have loved how it has provided them with the way to teach their employees about every aspect of their job, not just the M4 skills they need to hone. They have actually created over 10 courses unique to their company’s workflows on top of the M4 specific courses that they assign out to their team members.
AW: That’s very cool! As someone who has come from an Education background as a previous teacher, as folks may be creating their own content and curriculum on Litmos, do you have any tricks of the trade or best practices to create a curriculum that is beneficial for the users and also those creating it?
EN: This is such an important topic. I have been honing my own skills actually, creating video content because I’m used to teaching in person. It really depends on how detailed you want your video to be and what the desired outcome is. Are you wanting to just inform your team or do you want to teach them something new and have them follow along? My advice is to create a detailed list of objectives to keep you focused on what you want the video to cover then use a video recording software such as Camtasia, Adobe Captivate, etc. to record your screen as you walk through that workflow you want to record.
You also need to create a script that describes everything you were doing in that video. It may sound different than what you would expect, but it is better to record your audio and video separately so that the speed for both stays consistent. That script is going to come in handy when you are recording the audio.
Editing videos may seem daunting at first [and] I know I definitely had a little bit of a learning curve when I started, but I would be happy to teach clients how to do this through any of our online mentoring sessions. There’s also availability to have Mapcom resources create personalized training videos for your company.
AW: Awesome! These videos that you create, you can then place those on Litmos. Can you also create exams and questions that go along with them, or how does that look once it is housed on Litmos?
EN: Yeah! Litmos being multi-purposeful really allows you to create a course around the video. You can have learners upload a file, a response article, or even a video of their own to show them performing the tasks that you asked them to do in that training video. You can also, like you said, include a quiz. You can embed content so that other links from other sites can be added on to that course and make it even more robust. I think it’s definitely something that is completely personable to you, really how the client wants that course to look, it can look, and we can work together to make sure that it’s up to your standards.
Something else that I think is really neat is that you can host it on Litmos and it will be only viewable to your team. If you have contractors that you want to take the course as well, we can add them to the team. It’s really up to you, but it is going to be only viewable to your team. It’s not something like our products that we unveil to our whole Client List, it’s only going to be for you guys.
AW: Throwing you a little bit on the spot here but I know this is something that a lot of people who are in our Training Program are very excited about and that is all the certification levels and how all of that works within the Training program. I know the M4 Double Masters Green Jacket is the most envious of things to have at our Users Conference. Can you talk about the Certification Program and how you get the illusive green jacket?
EN: Yes. That is the most asked about topic! I swear when I’m introducing things to new clients, they’re like, “Hey! My co-worker so-and-so has a green jacket. How do I get there?”
We love that! We love to see the engagement that you all have with our program. We love that you’re excited about what our program provides for you and also just the fun way [it adds] to the learning process.
We start off with an M4 Specialist certification which starts at 24 points, and then as you go you increase to M4 Professional, M4 Expert, M4 Master and then the elusive M4 Double Master. It is not really elusive because it is attainable, but it is a wonderful way to just recognize your achievements and the amount of time you put into the process.
Learners can either take quizzes on only the modules they use or they’re welcome to learn about the entire software suite and take quizzes that way. As you’re working through it, it’s really important to visualize where you want your experience to go. You can finish it within two years, or some clients have decided to spread it out, wait, and re-certify each year and then build up into that M4 Double Master status.
M4 Double Master is 144 points so it does take a while, but as you said you do get a green jacket out of it and it is wonderful! For years we used the quintessential green jacket, but now in the last year or two, we have started offering different options. I think this is great because that way you can wear a sweatshirt or a pullover or a windbreaker and that really allows you to use that jacket more and not just in a more formal setting or at work, which I really like.
AW: Sure, and you mention points when you were talking about the certification programs, can you touch on how those points are achieved? Are there different opportunities outside of Litmos to get points or how does that all look for a user in Litmos?
EN: That’s a great point! You don’t just have to take quizzes on Litmos. You can also participate in webinars that we do quarterly called Tips and Tricks, which I know a lot of our listeners have probably participated in. You can also attend Users Conference, which I think is a wonderful value add to your learning profile. It’s an intensive learning opportunity where you’re sitting in a whole week’s worth of content given to you over a few days and you’re really able to soak up that M4 knowledge. There’s also the opportunity to network, which I think it’s hard to put a price on that.
As always we have other opportunities that you can earn certification points in. One of the ones especially for our users who are already Double Masters, we’re in the works of really figuring out how we want to help you guys help other people. We want to take that immense amount of knowledge that you all have and use that to have you help us host some webinars, help us work with other clients, and show us new tools or ways that you have found to use M4 to better your day-to-day work life.
AW: Thank you so much for sitting down and talking with me today about all things Training and Education here at Mapcom, I’m sure our listeners learned a ton, I know that I did. Thank you so much for joining me and we’ll talk to you soon!
EN: Wonderful. Thank you so much for having me!