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Learning Portals: Supporting Corporate Objectives
Its impact on learning should be obvious. Instead of having to deal with many unrelated and possibly time-consuming topics, a “customer” can quickly access the appropriate and relevant information in a user-friendly and efficient method because the portal is based on the user’s needs.
Technologies associated with these changes are not limited to the usual Web servers, HTML code and search engines. In fact, they can be rather complex, particularly when constructing a portal or portlet (a piece of real estate on the portal with a very specific purpose).
The purpose here is not to explore the technical depths of Web 2.0 but to explain how the use of these technologies can best be applied in an innovative fashion with the goal of productive learning and efficient use of each associate’s time — a result that provides tangible and (equally important) intangible benefits for a company’s performance.
To be effective, your portal must be a tool that enables the user to get work done while meeting the needs of all its customers — users and company. To do that, there are three basic requirements:
1. It must be simple. This means uncluttered and containing just the right amount of information. The key here is relevance. Most users have a narrow focus, and that should be reflected in each individual’s portal.
2. It must be intuitive. Users want their portals to be identical to their Internet experience, which is to say that portals should follow the basic set of conventions associated with Web pages. It’s obviously difficult to facilitate effective and timely learning if one constantly has to adjust to a different user experience.
3. It must be easy. If the portal is convoluted to the extent that multiple actions or clicks are required to access information, it is not going to work. One example is the login, a constant source of complaints from users. Yes, the portal cannot and should not be a one-size-fits-all system, but a single login should be sufficient and save time. Capital One, for example, was able to eliminate multiple logins so that what used to take 15 seconds a day now takes zero. It might not seem like much, but when you’re dealing with more than 30,000 users, that time adds up.
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